What are Crowns and Bridges?
Both crowns and most bridges are fixed prosthetic devices. Unlike removable devices such as dentures, which you can take out and clean daily, crowns and bridges are cemented onto existing teeth or implants, and can only be removed by your dentist.
How do crowns work?
A crown is used to entirely cover or ‘cap’ a damaged tooth. Besides strengthening a damaged tooth, a crown can be used to improve its appearance, shape or alignment. A crown can also be placed onto an implant to provide a tooth-like shape and structure for function. Porcelain or ceramic crowns can be matched to the colour of your natural teeth. Other materials include gold and metal alloys, acrylic and ceramic. These alloys are generally stronger than porcelain and may be recommended for back teeth. Porcelain bonded to a metal shell is often used because it is both strong and attractive.
A crown could be recommended to:
- Replace a large filling when there is not enough tooth remaining
- Protect a weak tooth from fracturing
- Restore a fractured tooth
- Attach a bridge
- Cover a dental implant
- Cover a discoloured or poorly shaped tooth
- Cover a tooth that has has root canal treatment
How do bridges work?
A bridge may be recommended if you are missing one or more teeth. Gaps left by missing teeth eventually cause the remaining teeth to rotate or shift into the empty spaces, resulting in a bad bite. The imbalance caused by missing teeth can also lead to gum disease and temporomadibular joint (TMJ) disorders. Bridges span the space where the teeth are missing. Bridges are cemented to the adjacent natural teeth or implants surrounding the empty space. These teeth, called abutments, serve as anchors for the bridge.
How long do crowns and bridges last?
While crowns and bridges can last a lifetime, they do sometimes become loose or fall out. The most important step you can take to ensure the longevity of your crown or bridge is to practice good oral hygiene. A bridge can lose its support if the teeth or bone holding it in place are damaged by dental disease. By brushing twice a day and also flossing daily you can help keep your gums healthy. Also ensure that you visit your dentist and dental hygienist for regular check-ups and cleaning.
To prevent damage to your crowns or bridges, avoid chewing hard foods, ice or other hard objects.
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