Crowns & Bridges – An introduction
Dental crowns and bridges are actually artificial dental implants that are used in restorative dentistry to replace, or restore, missing and damaged teeth in order to enhance their aesthetic appeal as well as to address any additional complication that might arise due to broken and misaligned teeth.
Restoration, or replacement, of damaged and broken teeth is important because:
- Filling the abnormal gaps between the teeth helps to keep them aligned normally
- Replacement of damaged, or broken, teeth helps maintain ideal oral healthcare and prevent plaque build-up as well as many oral diseases and disorders
- Missing, or misaligned, teeth can affect your self-confidence and treating them helps give you a confidence boost
Let us take a look at the characteristics and functions of a dental crown and a dental bridge:
What is a Dental Crown?
A dental crown is an artificially-made cap that is designed to fit the upper part of the tooth perfectly. This helps to restore the shape, size, strength and also improve the appearance of the tooth.
When the crowns are fixed, the dentist uses dental adhesive material to place the crown firmly on the tooth so as to encase it entirely above the gum line.
Why is a Dental Crown needed?
A dental crown may be needed to:
- Protect the weakened tooth from decaying and disintegrating further as well as to hold the remaining parts of a decayed tooth together
- Restore a broken tooth as well as a severely damaged tooth
- Provide cover and support a largely decayed tooth and protects its remaining structure
- Fix a dental bridge in place
- Encase severely discolored or misaligned teeth
- Cover a dental implant
- Make a cosmetic alteration to the teeth
What are the types of Dental Crowns?
Dental crowns that are meant for permanent use may be made from medical-grade stainless steel, certain metals (gold or another alloy), porcelain inlaid metal, resins as well as ceramic.
- Stainless steel – These are prefabricated crowns that are mainly used as a temporary measure for fixing on permanent teeth. The crown is useful in providing protection and cover to the tooth until a permanent crown from another material can be fixed on the tooth.
- Metal – Gold alloy, other alloys such as palladium, base-metal alloys such as chromium or nickel are generally used in metal dental crowns. This is a slightly more advantageous option as metal crowns require removal of less tooth structure and the wear and tear to the opposite tooth while eating is minimal. As the color of these crowns is bright and quite visible these are generally reserved for the rear molars that are out of sight.
- Porcelain inlaid metal – These crowns can be matched in color to the adjacent tooth. However, these types of crowns are more abrasive on the opposite teeth as compared to crowns made from metal or resins. These crowns are an ideal choice for front or back teeth.
- Resin – These dental crowns are made entirely from natural resin and are therefore more affordable. However, the down side is that these crowns tend to wear away sooner and are more prone to fractures.
- Ceramic – These dental crowns are more advantageous in their aesthetic aspect as they can be made to match the color of the adjacent teeth as well as being perfect for people with certain metal allergies who can be at the risk of a reaction due to a metal crown. These are ideal for the front teeth.
- Temporary Crown – These crowns are usually made in the dentist’s office and take less time for construction. These are comparatively easier to make with stainless steel or acrylic.
- Permanent Crown – Permanent crowns are made in the laboratory and are fixed usually after a couple of weeks since the measurements have been taken.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge is a dental prosthetic that is used to cover the gaps between the natural teeth. The bridge is actually made from two or more crowns that are meant for the teeth on either side of the missing teeth (gap). These teeth on either sides of the gap are known as ‘anchoring’ (abutment) teeth while the false teeth used to cover the gap is known as ‘pontics’. Pontics can be made from porcelain, gold, metal alloys or even a combination of these materials.
Why is a Dental Bridge needed?
A dental bridge is required to:
- Restore your smile
- Restore normal eating and speaking ability
- Maintain your facial shape
- Replace missing teeth to normalize the biting ability
- Prevent remaining teeth from getting misaligned
What are the types of Dental Bridges?
Dental bridges are mainly of three types, these are:
- Conventional bridges – These involve making a crown for the tooth, or use an implant on either side of the missing tooth, with a pontic in the middle. These are the most common types of dental bridges in use today and are mainly made from ceramic or porcelain inlaid metal.
- Cantilever bridges – These are useful in case there is a healthy adjacent tooth only on one side of the missing tooth. This type of dental bridge is rarely required.
- Resin-boned bridge – Also known as the Maryland bridge or the Maryland bonded bridge, it is made from porcelain, porcelain inlaid metal or plastic teeth and gums that are supported by a porcelain or a metal frame. Porcelain, or metal, wings on either side of the bridge are bonded (fixed with dental adhesive) to the adjacent teeth.
What are the advantages of Dental Crowns and Bridges?
The main advantage of dental crowns and bridges is that they provide an affordable means for restoring the aesthetic appearance of your missing, misaligned or damaged teeth in a permanent fashion.
These dental procedure not only help to restore the appeal to your smile it also helps to correct certain teeth deformities that might affect the way you eat or speak.