Dental Crowns & Bridges
Fillings can go a long way towards restoring the health of your teeth. However, in some situations, a broken tooth may have lost too much of its natural tooth structure or experienced too much damage to be fixed with a filling. Damaged teeth should be addressed as quickly as possible since continued wear to the tooth can cause permanent damage.
In these instances, an experienced dentist can replace nearly the entire tooth by installing a crown or a bridge. These customized prosthetic dental fixtures are cemented directly onto the existing tooth.
The Difference Between Crowns and Bridges
When only one tooth needs repair, dentists will apply a crown. These smaller dental prosthetic caps the damaged tooth and replaces the entire natural crown, which is the portion of the tooth sitting above the gum line. The dentist prepares the tooth initially by removing damaged sections of the tooth and shaping the rest so that the crown can easily rest on the existing structure. The crown itself is then designed and fabricated in a laboratory to fit over the remaining tooth. The dentist then installs the crown, customizing it during installation so that it fits naturally in with the rest of the teeth.
Similar to crowns, bridges also mimic natural teeth in shape and color. Unlike crowns, they are meant to replace more than one tooth at a time, often standing in for sections of lost or damaged teeth. Bridges can be customized to fit in with the remainder of the patient’s teeth and are bonded to the surrounding teeth by the dentist at the time of installation.
Crowns and bridges provide patients with some added structural and functional benefits. While they strengthen and replace damaged or lost teeth, they also give the dentist the opportunity to improve a tooth’s overall appearance, allowing them to adjust the tooth’s shape, color or alignment, and even fix bite misalignment issues. Finally, if left unfilled, gaps left open by missing teeth allow other teeth space to drift. This leads to misalignment issues for otherwise healthy teeth. Installing a quality bridge or crown solves that problem by filling in the gaps.
That said, practicing good oral hygiene ensures that your crown or bridge stays in good working condition, maintaining the health of the teeth acting as anchors to the appliance and making sure the gums remain healthy.