The world of dentistry is an infinitely interesting one. There are a whole lot of things to know, and even more things that you need to be on top of if you want to have a healthy mouth. For example, did you know that:
- There are specialty dentists who focus only on children’s teeth?
- The first dental school in the United States was established in 1840?
- The average person has 32 permanent teeth, but some people have as few as 24 and some have as many as 42?
And those are just a few of the things you might not know about your dentist! While we don’t have time to cover every single detail, today we’re going to be looking at crowns bridges and, if we have time, even Invisalign so you can have a better understanding of these things.
If you’re reading this article, you’re in the right place to learn all about crowns and bridges. We’ll explore what they are, how they work, and what the benefits and drawbacks of each one are. By the end of this article, you should have a much better understanding of these two dental procedures.
What are Crowns?
There are many places that we could start today’s article, but after much careful consideration, we’ve decided the best and easiest place to start is at the beginning: with definitions. So, what exactly is a crown?
A dental crown is a type of dental restoration that completely caps or encircles a tooth or dental implant. Crowns are often needed when a large cavity threatens the ongoing health of a tooth.
They are also used to support teeth that have been damaged in some way, to improve the appearance of misshapen or discolored teeth, and as part of some root canal procedures.
In short, if your dentist says you need a crown, it’s because they think it will help restore your mouth to optimal function and/or appearance.
There are several different types of crowns, and the type your dentist chooses for you will depend on a variety of factors. The three most common types of crowns are:
Porcelain crowns are made to match the color of your natural teeth as closely as possible. They’re also very strong, making them a good choice for molars or other teeth that experience a lot of wear and tear.
Ceramic crowns are similar to porcelain ones in terms of both appearance and strength. However, they’re usually not quite as expensive. -Metal: Metal crowns are made from either gold alloy or a base metal alloy (such as nickel). They’re much more durable than porcelain or ceramic crowns, but they’re also much more visible since they don’t blend in with the natural color of your teeth.
Cubic Zirconia crowns are a newer type of crown that’s made from, you guessed it, cubic zirconia. They’re very strong and durable, and they can be made to match the color of your natural teeth quite closely. However, they’re also quite expensive.
The procedure for getting a crown is actually quite simple. First, your dentist will numb the area around the tooth that needs to be crowned. Then, they’ll use a drill or other type of handpiece to remove any decay or damaged tissue from the tooth (this is why it’s important to see your dentist regularly for check-ups – so small problems can be caught before they turn into big ones!).
Next, an impression will be made of the prepared tooth (or teeth) and sent off to a dental laboratory where your new crown will be fabricated. In the meantime, you’ll likely be fitted with a temporary crown which will stay in place until your permanent one comes back from the lab.
Once it arrives back at your dentist’s office, they’ll check fitment and make any necessary adjustments before permanently cementing it in place with dental adhesive. And that’s it! The whole process usually takes 2-3 visits to your dentist spread out over the course of a few weeks.
Crowns are an extremely popular dental restoration, and there are many reasons for this. First and foremost, they’re very effective at restoring damaged teeth (or protecting teeth that are at risk of becoming damaged).
They’re also quite strong and durable, meaning they can last for many years with proper care. Additionally, crowns can be made to match the color of your natural teeth quite closely, making them virtually indistinguishable from the rest of your smile.
Of course, no dental restoration is perfect – there are also some drawbacks to getting a crown. The biggest one is cost – depending on the type of crown you get and where you live/go to school/work, getting a single tooth crown can cost anywhere from $500-$2000+.
Additionally, while porcelain or ceramic crowns typically don’t cause any problems with people who have metal allergies (since they don’t contain any metal), those with nickel sensitivities may need to avoid metal crowns altogether.
What is a Bridge?
Moving on, let’s take a look at bridges. Like crowns, bridges are a type of dental restoration. However, while crowns cap or encircle a single tooth, bridges span the space between two (or more) teeth. They’re usually used to replace one or more missing teeth – for example, if you have a gap in your smile due to an extracted tooth (or multiple extracted teeth).
There are several different types of bridges that your dentist can choose from, and the type they select will depend on a variety of factors such as:
The Number of Missing Teeth:
A bridge can span the space between two adjacent teeth (known as abutment teeth), or it can be anchored on either side by dental implants.
The Location of the Missing Tooth/Teeth:
Bridges are typically used to replace front teeth since they’re not subject to as much force when you chew and speak compared to back molars. However, this isn’t always the case, for example, if you have three consecutive missing molar teeth, your dentist may recommend getting a bridge instead of individual implants for each one.
The way your upper and lower jaws fit together is known as your “bite.” If you have an improper bite (known as malocclusion), a bridge may not be the best option for you since it can put too much force on certain teeth and cause problems down the road.
Like crowns, bridges are made in a dental laboratory from impressions of your mouth. The type of material used to make the bridge will depend on which teeth it’s going to span – for example, if it’s spanning your front teeth, porcelain or ceramic is usually used since these materials blend in well with the natural color of your teeth.
If it’s spanning back molars, metal is usually used instead since it’s stronger and can withstand more force. The process for getting a bridge is similar to that of getting a crown – your dentist will numb the area around the tooth (or teeth) that need to be involved, then they’ll use a drill or other handpiece to remove any decay or damaged tissue.
Next, an impression will be made and sent off to the lab where your new bridge will be fabricated (which usually takes 2-3 weeks). In meantime, you’ll likely be fitted with a temporary bridge that stays in place until the permanent one comes back from the lab.
Once arrives back at the office check fitment and make adjustments before permanently cementing it in place with a dental adhesive.
Bridges are a very popular option for replacing missing teeth, and there are many reasons for this. First and foremost, they’re quite effective at restoring your smile and the function of your mouth.
Additionally, bridges can last for many years with proper care – some people even have them for the rest of their lives! Another big benefit of bridges is that they’re usually less expensive than getting implants (though the cost will still vary depending on things like insurance coverage and the type of bridge you get).
Like everything else in life, there are also some drawbacks to getting a bridge. The biggest one is that, since they rely on adjacent teeth (known as abutment teeth) for support, bridges can put extra stress on these teeth which can lead to problems down the road. Additionally, Bridges require regular flossing and brushing just like your natural teeth do – if you don’t take good care of them, you run the risk of developing cavities or gum disease around them.
Finally – as we mentioned before – bridges typically need to be replaced every 10-15 years or so due to wear and tear (though this will depend on how well you take care of them).
Understanding Proper Dental Care
We covered a lot of infromation today, but hopefully, you now have a better understanding of crowns, bridges, and how they work. As we mentioned before, taking good care of your teeth is important to maintaining optimal oral health. This means brushing at least twice a day (preferably with fluoride toothpaste), flossing once a day, and visiting your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings.