Dental crowns are considered restorative – in other words, a procedure that’s intended to repair natural teeth. Essentially, a dental crown is a "cap" that’s placed over a tooth, covering the tooth to maintain its natural size and shape. Crowns can also provide structural strength to a tooth. Dental crowns may be prescribed for a wide range of conditions. Following a complete dental exam, the dentist can determine if this procedure is viable, and how best to proceed.
In some cases, crowns are used to effectively protect a damaged tooth from further deteriorating. In other cases, a crown can add structural support to a weak tooth (one with a large filling). It’s also possible to create a crown that adds stability to a dental bridge. For the patient, installing a dental crown allows the tooth (or teeth) to look natural and function as naturally as all the other teeth. The overall results are excellent, and the finished procedure offers longevity.
With dental crowns, a localized anesthetic is required in order to prepare the damaged tooth. The dentist makes an impression of the damaged area of the tooth, so that a crown can be fabricated to match the impression. While waiting for the final crown, a “temporary” crown will be installed to safely cover the exposed tooth. Once fabricated, the permanent dental crown will be cemented into place, and the dentist will ensure a perfect fit, allowing for natural chewing/biting.
Different than a dental crown, a dental bridge is designed to fill space where a tooth is physically missing. Dental bridges are highly customized and somewhat more complex than crowns. They are intended to extend over the area where a tooth is missing and hold an artificial tooth in place, with support from the teeth on either side. With this procedure, healthy teeth on each side of the missing tooth are readied as first step. Here again, an impression is created of the area.
Basically, a dental bridge is a device that comprises an artificial tooth with a crown on either side. In this way, the crowns actually support the device, and the artificial tooth fills the missing space. While the final bridge is being fabricated from the impression, the dentist installs a temporary bridge. When ready, the final bridge will be attached to healthy teeth on each side of the missing tooth. Patients should be aware that dental bridges are permanent and can’t be removed.
From a technical perspective, there are various types of bridges, and here, it’s important for the dentist to prescribe the most appropriate. Provided that a patient has good oral health habits, a dental bridge can last for 10 years or more. Just like natural teeth, however, routine dental visits and proper daily maintenance are imperative. In some situations, patients may require multiple bridges – this is somewhat more complex, requiring far more work and more clinic time.
Whatever the restoration procedure, crowns and bridges both require precision work and the skills of an experienced dentist. This will ensure excellent results and long lasting satisfaction.