If your tooth is damaged but not lost, a crown can be used to restore its shape, appearance and function. You may need a crown if you have a root canal, a large filling in a tooth or a broken tooth.
A crown, also called a cap, is a hollow, artificial tooth used to cover a damaged or decayed tooth. The crown restores the tooth and protects it from further damage. Crowns can also be used to cover a discoloured or misshapen tooth. A tooth that has been fixed with a crown looks and works very much like a natural tooth.
- Your dentist gives you a local anesthetic.
- To make room for the crown, your dentist files down the tooth that needs to be restored.
- An impression of the filed-down tooth and nearby teeth is taken. This impression is used to custom make your final crown. The crown is built using restorative material (material used for fillings) based on the impression. The final crown will be the right shape for your mouth.
- Until your final crown is ready, your dentist places a temporary crown over the tooth that needs to be restored. The temporary crown is made from an impression of your tooth before it was filed down. It protects your tooth until the final crown is ready. A temporary crown may not have the same shape and colour as a final crown.
- On your next visit, your dentist takes off the temporary crown and puts on the final one. Your dentist checks to make sure the crown is the right fit, shape, colour and bite. If it is, your dentist cements the crown into place.
These are the steps dentists most often follow in making a crown, but your tooth may need special care. You may need orthodontic treatment, gum treatment or root canal treatment. It may take more than 2 visits to your dentist, or your visits may last longer.
Crowns are made from various types of materials. Depending on which tooth needs a crown, your dentist will suggest a material, or combination of materials, that is right for you.
- Metal crowns
- Porcelain crowns
- Zirconia crowns
- Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns
Crowns are strong and generally last for about 10 years or longer if you take good care of them. Brush and floss your crown, just like you clean your natural teeth. Crowns may not be as strong as your natural teeth. So like your natural teeth, remember not to bite down on hard objects or use your teeth to open or cut things.
A bridge, also called a “fixed bridge” or a “fixed dental prosthesis,” is a dental restoration that replaces one or more missing teeth. It extends across an area that has no teeth and is typically made up of an artificial tooth fused between 2 crowns. (A crown is a hollow, artificial tooth that fits over a natural tooth or a dental implant). The bridge is held firmly in place by your own teeth on each side of the missing one(s) or by dental implants. A bridge is permanent and cannot be removed.
There are different types of dental bridges. Your dentist or prosthodontist will recommend the most appropriate one depending on the location of the missing tooth (or teeth) and the condition of your teeth, mouth and gums.
Traditional bridges are used if there are natural teeth on each side of the gap where the tooth is missing. (As an alternative to a bridge, your dentist may suggest a single implant to replace a missing tooth between 2 healthy teeth. An implant will prevent you from having to get your healthy teeth filed down in preparation for the crowns.
With a traditional bridge, healthy teeth on each side of the missing tooth are prepared for crowns.
The custom-made artificial tooth is fused to 2 crowns. This is called a bridge.
A bridge is permanent and cannot be removed.
Implant bridges are used if you don’t have healthy teeth or enough teeth to support a bridge, or when several or all teeth are missing. A custom-made bridge is anchored to the dental implants. Your dentist will first determine if dental implants are right for you.
With an implant bridge, dental implants are surgically placed into the jawbone.
A custom-made bridge is anchored to the dental implants.
Implant bridges can be used when all your teeth are missing.
Resin-bonded bridges, also known as “Maryland” bridges, are used when the missing teeth are in the front of the mouth. This type of bridge involves the artificial teeth being fused together to metal bands and cemented to the back of your natural teeth.
Cantilever bridges are used when there are healthy teeth on only one side of the missing tooth or teeth. This procedure involves anchoring the artificial tooth over one or more of your natural adjacent teeth.
If you take good care of your bridge, it should generally last for about 10 years, or perhaps longer. Like natural teeth, bridges need to be brushed and flossed every day. Your dentist will show you how to use a floss threader to floss under and around the artificial tooth (or teeth) in the middle of the bridge. Regular dental visits and professional cleanings are also important. If you have an implant bridge, your dentist will show you how to properly care for it.