Crowns and bridges can be durable solutions to restore both the function and appearance of your damaged or missing teeth and beautify your smile. They are fixed prosthetic devices which are cemented onto existing teeth or implants and unlike dentures can only be removed by your dentist.
A crown is a tooth-shaped cap that covers an existing tooth above the gum line in order to strengthen and protect it from further damage as well as improving its overall aesthetics. Like the rest of our bodies, our teeth are subject to wear and tear and may be severely weakened by trauma, root canal treatment and extensive decay as well as losing their healthy appearance due discolouration and aging. A crown is often required to save a damaged tooth in the instance where its root system is still in-tact but its damage is too severe to be supported by regular fillings or veneers.
Your dentist may also recommend a crown in the following circumstances to:
- restore a fractured tooth or protect and prevent fractures in a weakened tooth;
- cover a dental implant;
- replace a tooth or large filling in a severely decayed or damaged tooth that cannot support a normal filling;
- hide a severely discoloured or poorly shaped tooth;
- act as an anchor point for a dental bridge.
Crowns are usually made of full porcelain, zirconia, metal or a combination of these materials. The benefit of a full porcelain crown is its ability to mimic the natural properties of teeth with regard to reflecting light and can be matched in colour to your natural teeth to blend in flawlessly.
If you are missing one or more teeth a bridge might be a good solution for you. Gaps left from losing a permanent tooth due to dental decay, gum disease or trauma, can cause serious issues for the remaining neighbouring teeth over time. The remaining teeth have a tendency to shift or rotate into the empty spaces, resulting in a bad bite and further spacing between teeth. The imbalance caused by gaps from missing teeth will also increase your risk of developing gum disease and temporomandibular joint (TMD) disorders later on.
A bridge is a custom-made device that is used to replace one or more missing teeth and therefore stabilise the teeth surrounding a gap by redistributing the biting load and prevent them from moving. They fill the space where teeth are missing by being anchored onto adjacent teeth or implants.
Like crowns, there are a number of materials available for the construction of bridges for which your dentist can advise you of which is best suited for your smile.