Crowns and Bridges
A crown is a type of cap that completely covers a real tooth. It’s made from either metal (gold and metal alloys), porcelain or porcelain bonded to metal. Porcelain or ceramic crowns can be matched to the colour of your natural teeth. Metal alloys are used because of their strength and are particularly good on back teeth on people who clench or grind their teeth (bruxism). Porcelain fused to metal crowns are used because of their strength and appearance. As dentistry has evolved so to have the materials used. The latest porcelains used in crowns are now both aesthetically pleasing and strong enough to use on back teeth.
Crowns can be fitted where a tooth has broken, decayed or been damaged, or just to improve the appearance, shape or alignment of a tooth. To fit a crown, the old tooth will need to be reshaped to allow the crown to be cemented onto it. It can take time for the lab to prepare a new crown (2 weeks) so you will most likely have a temporary crown fitted during the interim period.
Your dentist may recommend a crown to:
- Replace a large filling when there isn’t 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 had root canal treatment generally stronger than porcelain and may be recommended on back teeth for those people who clench or grind their teeth (bruxism). Porcelain bonded to a metal shell is often used
A bridge may be recommended if you’re 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 temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
- Bridges are commonly used to replace one or more missing teeth.
- They span the space where the teeth are missing.
- Bridges are cemented to the natural teeth or implants surrounding the empty space. These teeth, called abutments, serve as anchors for the bridge. A replacement tooth, called a pontic, is attached to the crowns that cover the abutments.
As with crowns, you have a choice of materials for bridges. Your dentist can help you decide which to use, based on the location of the missing tooth (or teeth), its function, aesthetic considerations and cost.
Frequently Asked Questions
This is most likely going to be the exposed metal of a porcelain bonded to metal crown. These type of crowns usually have a metal finishing line which is normally hidden underneath the gum line, however over time due to gum disease or over aggressive brushing the gums may recede to expose this area. The best way of correcting this cosmetic concern would be to have a new crown constructed using an all porcelain material with no metal underneath.
Crowns and bridges must be looked after in a similar way to natural teeth. Regular brushing twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste as well as use of an alcohol free fluoride mouthwash after a meal is recommended. Interdental cleaning around any crown is essential to prevent debris getting caught. Bridges will require the use of a special flossing technique to get underneath the artificial tooth (pontic). Flossing techniques will be demonstrated to you after any crown/bridge is fitted.