A dental crown is a tooth-shaped “cap” that is placed over a tooth—to cover the tooth and restore its shape and size, strength, and improve its appearance. When cemented into place, the crown fully encases the entire visible portion of a tooth that lies at and above the gum line.
A dental crown can be used to:
- Protect a weak or decayed tooth from breaking or to hold together parts of a cracked tooth
- Restore an already broken tooth or a tooth that has been severely worn down
- Cover and support a tooth with a large filling when there isn’t a lot of tooth left
- Hold a dental bridge in place
- Cover misshapen or severely discolored teeth
- Cover a dental implant
- Make a cosmetic modification to the teeth
For children, a crown may be used on primary (baby) teeth in order to:
- Save a tooth that has been so damaged by decay that it can’t support a filling.
- Protect the teeth of a child at high risk for tooth decay, especially when he/she has difficulty with daily oral hygiene.
Permanent crowns can be made from stainless steel, or they can be all metal (such as gold or another alloy), porcelain-fused-to-metal, all resin, or all ceramic. The advantage of porcelain-fused-to metal and ceramic-porcelain crowns is that the color can be closely matched to adjacent teeth.
The types of crowns
Full Metal Crown
A Full metal crown is a crown fabricated of all metals thus giving it its Silver color. This is a very durable material and is functional; however it lacks aesthetics.
Full Gold Crown
A Full gold crown is a crown fabricated mostly of gold along with a few other metals. These crowns are generally the best and most durable crowns available as the gold material shapes and conforms to the tooth and seals the best. However; they are considered less aesthetic due to the color and are fairly expensive since the price is based on the value of gold.
Porcelain Fused to Metal Crown
A Porcelain Fused to Metal crown in the most common type of crown as it can be made to match the natural teeth more closely because of the porcelain used. These crowns have good longevity; however because the porcelain is adhered to a metal base they can chip causing the metal to show. As we age and the gums begin to recede, the metal can also begin to show along the gum line, thus they are considered somewhat aesthetic but not the most aesthetic.
All Ceramic Crown
An All Ceramic crown is a crown made completely of porcelain. These crowns are the most aesthetic options as they can be made to match the natural tooth shade most closely. Because these crowns are fabricated from a solid block of porcelain they are less likely to chip and break as can happen with the porcelain fused to metal crowns.
Zirconia Crown (Bruxzir Crowns)
Full Zirconia crowns are gaining popularity due to their combination of strength and cosmetics. They have the strength of a metal crown with very close aesthetics to a full porcelain crown. These types of crowns are highly recommended for people that grind their teeth as they don’t wear down on the opposing teeth the way that porcelain crowns can and they are more durable to breaking or chipping. They are not as aesthetic as a full porcelain crown due to the opacity of the material; however they can be made nearly as ideal aesthetically as a full porcelain crown and are highly recommended for posterior teeth.
How to care for a dental crown.
While a crowned tooth does not require any special care, it’s important to keep in mind that simply because a tooth is crowned does not mean the underlying tooth is protected from decay or gum disease. That’s why you should continue to follow good oral hygiene practices, including brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing once a day — especially around the crown area where the gum meets the tooth. Rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash can also help.
On average, dental crowns can last between five and 15 years. The life span of a crown depends on the amount of “wear and tear” it is exposed to, how well you follow good oral hygiene practices, and your personal mouth-related habits. (Avoid habits like grinding or clenching your teeth, chewing ice, biting fingernails, and using your teeth to open packaging).
A bridge, also known as a fixed partial denture, is a dental restoration that is fabricated in a dental lab and used to replace a missing tooth by joining it permanently to adjacent teeth or dental implants. As its name implies, it literally “bridges” the gap created by one or more missing teeth.
A bridge is made up of two crowns for the teeth on either side of the gap. The two anchoring teeth are called “abutment teeth,” which may be either natural teeth or implants. The false tooth/teeth in between are called “pontics.”
Dental bridges provide several benefits.
- They can restore your smile.
- They can restore the ability to properly chew and speak.
- They help maintain the shape of your face.
- They distribute the forces in your bite properly by replacing missing teeth.
- They prevent remaining teeth from drifting out of position
The types of bridges
Traditional bridges, the most common type, are made of either porcelain fused to metal or ceramics. They involve creating a crown for the toot or implant on either side of the missing tooth, with a pontic in between.
Cantilever bridges are used when there are adjacent teeth on only one side of the missing tooth or teeth.
Maryland bonded bridges (also called resin-bonded bridges or Maryland bridges) are made of plastic teeth and gums supported by a metal framework. Metal wings on each side of the bridge are bonded to the existing teeth.
Dental bridges do not require any special care, and they can last five to 15 years and even longer—with proper oral hygiene and regular dental checkups. The success of the bridge depends on the solid foundation offered by the surrounding teeth, so it is important to keep remaining teeth healthy and strong. Maintaining a health diet and a regular dental regimen, including brushing twice a day and flossing daily, can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease that can lead to tooth loss.
The best type of crown or bridge is none at all.
To avoid needing a crown or bridge, don’t wait too long between dental visits and allow tooth decay to ravage your teeth. In the event you need either one, however, our dentists have extensive experience in this area. Call to schedule an appointment for a consultation. Contact Us!