Tooth decay is one of the country’s most prevalent dental health issues, with 1 in 4 American adults having at least one cavity. Deep tooth decay can lead to breakage due to the weakened tooth structure. It can also result in removing a portion of the tooth and, in severe cases, may require tooth extraction.
Dental crowns and bridges are two of the most popular restorative dental procedures to treat damaged or missing teeth, improving function and aesthetics.
These restorations preserve the integrity of your natural teeth, support the surrounding teeth, and offer a natural appearance that blends seamlessly with your smile. However, the appropriate dental treatment for your needs depends on the condition of your teeth.
Learn more about dental crowns and bridges to determine which treatment you need to restore your smile.
What is a Dental Crown?
A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cover cemented onto a damaged tooth to restore its size, shape, and strength and improve its appearance. After placement, they completely encase the entire tooth surface above the gum line.
Dental crowns are a protective cover, fortifying and safeguarding damaged or weakened teeth. They are custom-made to fit snugly over the tooth, providing a strong, durable layer that functions like a natural tooth.
You may need a dental crown to address:
- Tooth decay: When a tooth has a large cavity that cannot be filled, a crown may be needed to restore its structure and function.
- Root canal: After root canal treatment, the tooth loses its structural integrity, and a filling may not provide enough support. A crown helps protect and strengthen it.
- Cracked or broken tooth: If a tooth is cracked or broken, a crown can hold the pieces together to prevent further damage.
- Worn down tooth: Teeth that are severely worn down, often due to grinding or acid erosion, might require crowns to restore their shape and function.
- Cosmetic treatment: A dental crown can improve the appearance of misshapen or intrinsically discolored teeth.
- Dental implants: Crowns are often placed on top of dental implants to replace missing teeth.
Types of Dental Crowns
When selecting a dental crown, the material used can impact the crown’s longevity, appearance, and compatibility with your natural teeth. Porcelain dental crowns are a popular choice in restorative dentistry. They offer several advantages over other types:
- Aesthetic appeal: Porcelain crowns closely resemble natural teeth in terms of color and translucency. They can be custom-made to match the shade of the surrounding teeth, making them nearly indistinguishable from natural teeth.
- Strength and durability: Modern porcelain crowns are made to withstand daily biting and chewing forces and can last up to 5 to 15 years before the crown needs to be replaced.
- Non-allergenic: Porcelain is biocompatible, meaning it does not cause allergic reactions. This is an advantage for patients who are allergic or sensitive to metals.
- Conservative preparation: With advances in dental materials, there are now types of porcelain crowns that require less removal of the natural tooth structure than in the past.
- Comfort: Porcelain is smooth and feels more like a natural tooth in the mouth than other materials, such as gold.
- Metal-free: For patients who prefer to avoid metals in their restorations (due to allergies, aesthetic concerns, or personal preferences), all-porcelain crowns are a metal-free option.
- Gum compatibility: Porcelain crowns are usually well-tolerated by the gums. There is minimal risk of gum irritation or inflammation if the crown is correctly placed and maintained.
The Process of Getting a Dental Crown
Getting a dental crown typically requires two to three visits to your dentist. Your dentist will assess the damaged tooth and may take X-rays to examine the roots and surrounding bone structure. Depending on the condition of your tooth, your dentist might need to file it down or build it up to provide enough supporting structure for the crown.
Next, your dentist takes an impression of your tooth, which will be sent to an off-site lab where technicians will fabricate a crown that perfectly fits your tooth. Owens Cosmetic and Family Dentistry uses a state-of-the-art 3SHAPE TRIOS® intraoral scanner to take impressions, eliminating the need for messy putties and alginate trays.
While the permanent crown is being made, which might take a couple of weeks, a temporary crown is placed to protect the prepared tooth. Once the permanent crown is ready, the temporary one is removed, and the new crown is cemented into place, adjusted to fit comfortably and match your bite.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge is a dental restoration used to replace one or more missing teeth. A standard dental bridge features a crown placed on the abutment teeth on each side of the missing tooth, with a false tooth (pontic) in between.
Bridges are typically made from tooth-colored materials like porcelain ceramic or composite to blend naturally with your smile.
Dental bridges are crucial for aesthetics as well as maintaining the structure of your mouth and bite. They help correctly distribute the forces in your bite, preventing the remaining teeth from moving out of position.
Types of Dental Bridges
Understanding the different types of dental bridges is essential as it helps you decide which is best for your unique dental needs.
Traditional Dental Bridges
Traditional bridges are the most popular type, consisting of one or more pontics held in place by dental crowns cemented onto the neighboring teeth. These bridges are strong and reliable, suitable for replacing missing teeth in most areas of the mouth, excluding the rear of the dental arch.
Maryland Dental Bridges
Maryland bridges offer a conservative alternative to traditional bridges. Instead of using crowns as abutments, a Maryland bridge uses a metal or porcelain framework bonded onto the backs of the adjacent teeth. While less invasive, they might not be as strong as traditional bridges and are often used to replace front teeth.
Cantilever Dental Bridges
Cantilever bridges are like a standard bridge but only need one neighboring tooth to support the bridge. This design is used when adjacent teeth are on only one side of the missing tooth or teeth. However, due to their reliance on a single tooth for support, they may not be as durable as other types.
Implant-Supported Dental Bridges
Implant-supported bridges provide the most stable and long-lasting solution for missing teeth. Instead of relying on the adjacent natural teeth to hold a bridge, one or more dental implants are placed into the jawbone to support the bridge.
The bridge is attached after the implants are securely integrated into the bone. In addition to restoring your smile, these bridges promote better jawbone health by preventing resorption.
The Process of Getting a Dental Bridge
The process of getting a traditional dental bridge usually requires at least two visits to the dentist. During the first visit, the abutment teeth are prepared by contouring or removing a portion of enamel to allow room for a crown to be placed over them. Your dentist then takes impressions of the teeth that serve as a model for the bridge.
While the dental lab makes your bridge, you’ll receive a temporary bridge to protect the exposed teeth and gums. On your next visit, the temporary bridge is removed, and the new bridge is adjusted and bonded into place. You might need multiple visits to check and adjust the fit of the bridge.
Caring for Dental Crowns and Bridges
Proper care and maintenance are critical to ensure the longevity and durability of your dental crowns and bridges. Use the following tips to keep your restoration in good condition:
Cleaning and Maintenance
Twice daily brushing with fluoride toothpaste and flossing are essential to remove plaque and prevent decay. You may need special floss, interdental brushes, or floss threaders to clean the spaces around the bridge or crown to prevent the build-up of plaque and bacteria.
While crowns and bridges are durable, avoid chewing hard food, ice, or other hard objects to prevent damage and premature wear and tear due to excessive bite forces. You also need to eat a diet rich in vitamins and minerals to support overall oral health, while limiting sugary snacks and drinks helps prevent decay in the surrounding or underlying teeth.
Regular Dental Checkups
Routine dental checkups and professional cleanings enable your dentist to identify potential issues early, ensuring your dental crowns and bridges remain in optimal condition. Regular visits allow your dentist to adjust your restoration if necessary, ensuring comfort and proper fit over time.
Does Insurance Cover the Cost of Dental Crowns and Bridges?
However, several factors affect coverage, including annual maximums, waiting periods, in-network providers, and deductibles. Consult with your insurance provider for specifics and any pre-authorization requirements.
Financing is an excellent option to ensure you get the dental care you need. At Owens Cosmetic and Family Dentistry, we’ve partnered with CareCredit to provide financing plans with no interest for 12, 18, or 24 months. No down payment is required, and the payment plan offers affordable monthly repayments.
Get High-Quality Dental Crowns and Bridges at Owens Cosmetic and Family Dentistry
Restore your smile with high-quality dental crowns and bridges at Owens Cosmetic and Family Dentistry. Our experienced dental professionals can provide comprehensive care from the initial consultation to your follow-up. If you’re ready to rejuvenate your smile, contact us today to schedule an appointment.