Sometimes a tooth becomes so severely damaged due to decay, cracked teeth or trauma that the area is too large to restore with a traditional filling. Such cases may call for a dental crown. One option to replacing missing teeth when teeth exist on either side of the space is a bridge.
Both crowns and bridges fit completely over the affected teeth. To prepare for a crown or bridge, the tooth is prepared by being trimmed down (reduced) to accommodate the crown or bridge. The crown or bridge restores the size, shape and look of your teeth, and more importantly restores function. Learn more about crowns and bridges below.
A dental crown, sometimes called a cap, completely covers your damaged tooth. It is cemented into place and offers a strong, solid, good-looking replacement for a natural tooth. A crown is created in a lab and is made from models your dentist makes with impressions, so it fits your mouth perfectly; replicating the shape, size and position of your damaged tooth.
- To replace a large filling that no longer has enough tooth structure to continue to fill the cavity
- To protect a weak tooth from further chipping, breaking or fracturing
- To restore a fractured/cracked tooth
- To cover a poorly shaped tooth or discolored tooth
- To attach a dental bridge (see more below)
- To protect and restore a tooth that has had a root canal
- To cover a dental implant
As with crowns, bridges are made of several different types of materials. Gold, alloy, porcelain or a combination of all of them. Material selection is based on your existing dentition, the area of the mouth to be restored and the type of bridge to be used. With proper care and dental hygiene, your bridge will keep you smiling for many of years.
Missing a tooth and having a gap in between your teeth isn’t just unsightly, it can cause other problems. Talking and chewing may be difficult. Teeth adjacent to the space will eventually begin to shift into the empty space which will affect your bite, may lead to gum disease and possibly even jaw joint disorders like temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues.
One way to take care of a gap caused by a missing tooth is with a dental bridge. There are removable dental bridges, also called partial dentures, that can be removed and cleaned like dentures, and there are permanent dental bridges, sometimes called fixed partial dentures.
A dental bridge is called a bridge because it literally bridges the gap where one or more teeth used to be. Bridges are cemented to the teeth adjacent to the empty space. The adjacent teeth, called abutments, serve as the anchors for the bridge. The adjacent teeth are trimmed down and capped with a crown, and then a replacement tooth, called a pontic, is attached to those crowns to form the bridge. The unit is securely cemented to your teeth and your smile and ability to chew food is improved.
- Restore the ability to chew and speak properly
- Maintain the shape of your face, preventing lip or face collapse
- Distribute the forces in your bite to alleviate stress on other teeth
- Prevent remaining teeth from shifting out of position and into the gap