Crowns and bridges are both procedures that are used to improve the look of your teeth. A crown usually involves a single tooth which has a large cavity or decayed area; has become misaligned or misshapen; is cracked or fractured; has undergone a root canal; or which is too weak to survive a filling. In these situations, a crown can offer added protection and support as well as help restore your natural, more functional bite.
The process of having a crown placed begins with a local anesthetic to numb the area around your tooth. Then any decay is drilled out and filled with either amalgam or another material. Once this is done, the tooth is then drilled further and shaped so that a crown will fit over it without crowding the adjacent teeth. Part of the shaping usually includes drilling out what are called retention grooves in the sides of the tooth as added stability and security once the crown is placed. After all of these steps are completed, our dental office will take an impression of your tooth and send that out to a lab for fabrication. The crown can be made out of a variety of materials, including gold, ceramic, and porcelain. Since creating your crown can take some time, usually a couple of weeks, you’ll be fitted with a temporary crown for the interim. Once the creation of the permanent crown is completed, you’ll come in for another appointment to have it placed. After we remove the temporary one, we will place the permanent crown and check the fit, look, and alignment. When that’s perfected, we’ll cement the crown into place and you’ll be free to go.
Bridges, which are sometimes known as fixed partial dentures, are typically used in situations where a tooth is missing entirely or does not have enough material to support a crown. It works by hooking on to the teeth adjacent to the empty space, essentially bridging the gap with a “dummy tooth” (also called a pontic). The anchoring teeth are prepared in a way similar to the procedure for a crown, though added attention to detail is used to make sure the teeth have the same taper. Again, an impression of the teeth is made and sent to the lab for fabrication and the prepared teeth are fitted with a temporary bridge for protection. Once the bridge is complete and the fit is reviewed, the permanent bridge will be cemented into place.