A dental crown is a tooth-shaped “cap” that fits snuggly over a tooth, completely covering it. Usually a crown is required to restore the size, shape, strength, or appearance of a tooth. Crowns fix these issues by completely encasing the visible portion of the tooth that lies above the gumline.
A crown may be needed in the following situations:
1. If you have a weak tooth (ie: from decay), you may need a crown to prevent the tooth from breaking or to hold together parts of a cracked tooth.
2. If you have a tooth that is already broken or that has been severely worn down, you may need a crown.
3. Crowns can also be used to cover and support a tooth with a large filling when there is not much tooth left.
4. Crowns can be used to hold a dental bridge in place.
5. Crowns can be placed over misshapen or discolored teeth.
6. If you have had a dental implant placed, a crown may be used to cover the implant.
7. Or, you may need a crown to cover a tooth that has had a root canal.
Preparing a tooth for a crown usually takes two office visits. The first visit will be to prepare the tooth for the crown. During this first appointment, the doctor will take x-rays to ensure that the root of the tooth and surrounding bone are healthy enough to support a dental crown. If the teeth have significant decay then a root canal may be required before a crown can be placed.
Before the procedure begins, the doctor will numb your tooth and surrounding gum tissue. The tooth receiving the crown will be filed down along the chewing surface and sides to make room for the crown. The amount your tooth will be filed depends on the type of crown used and your particular case. After the tooth has been reshaped, an impression of the tooth will be made. This impression will be used to create your unique crown. Manufacturing of the crown usually takes 2-3 weeks.
During your second visit, the crown will be permanently cemented in place.
Bridge (Fixed Partial Denture)
A bridge, or a fixed partial denture, is designed to literally bridge the gap between one or more missing teeth. A bridge is made up of two crowns fused on one side to one or more false teeth. The crowns are then attached to the teeth on either side of the gap in the patient’s teeth. Unlike removable partial dentures, bridges cannot be removed.
Bridges are designed to restore the aesthetics of your smile and the functionality of it, allowing you to eat and speak properly. Bridges help maintain the shape of your face so that cheeks do not sink where teeth are missing. Bridges can help distribute bite forces by replacing missing teeth. And they can prevent teeth from drifting out of position.
Like crowns, placing a bridge requires two office visits. During the first visit, the teeth that serve as abutments (the teeth on either side of the missing tooth) are prepared for their crown. The enamel on each tooth is removed to allow room for the crowns. After the tooth has been reshaped, an impression of the area will be made. These impressions are used to manufacture the bridge and crowns. Your doctor may make a temporary bridge for you to wear in order to protect the exposed teeth and gums while your bridge is being made. Manufacturing the bridge usually takes 2-3 weeks.
During your second office visit, the temporary bridge will be removed and your permanent bridge will be fitted and cemented in place. You may be required to come in for multiple follow up visits to ensure that the fit and bite of the bridge is correct.