What are Dental Crowns?

Crowns  are fixed prosthetic devices. Unlike removable devices such as dentures which you can take out and clean daily, crowns are cemented, and can only be removed by a dentist.

How do Crowns Work?

A crown is used to entirely cover or “cap” a damaged tooth. Besides strengthening a damaged tooth, a crown can be used to improve its appearance, shape or alignment. A crown can also be placed on top of an implant to provide a tooth-like shape and structure for function. Porcelain or ceramic crowns can be matched to the colour of your natural teeth. Other materials include gold and metal alloys, acrylic and ceramic.

These alloys are generally stronger than porcelain and may be recommended for back teeth. Porcelain bonded to a metal shell is often used because it is both strong and attractive.

Your dentist may recommend a crown to:

  • Replace a large filling when there isn’t enough tooth remaining
  • Protect a weak tooth from fracturing
  • Restore a fractured tooth
  • Attach a bridge
  • Cover a dental implant Cover a discoloured or poorly shaped tooth
  • Cover a tooth that has had root canal treatment

BRIDGES

How do Bridges Work?

A bridge may be recommended if you’re missing one or more teeth. Gaps left by missing teeth eventually cause the remaining teeth to rotate or shift into the empty spaces, resulting in a bad bite. The imbalance caused by missing teeth can also lead to gum disease and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.

Bridges are commonly used to replace one or more missing teeth. They span the space where the teeth are missing. Bridges are cemented to the natural teeth or implants surrounding the empty space. These teeth, called abutments, serve as anchors for the bridge natural tooth will be taken away slightly to make way.

A replacement tooth, called a pontic, is attached to the crowns that cover the abutments. As with crowns, you have a choice of materials for bridges. Your dentist can help you decide which to use, based on the location of the missing tooth (or teeth), its function, aesthetic considerations and cost. Porcelain or ceramic bridges can be matched to the colour of your natural teeth

DENTURES

Complete dentures

Complete dentures can be either “conventional” or “immediate”. Made after the teeth have been removed and the gum tissue has begun to heal, a conventional denture is ready for placement in the mouth about eight to 12 weeks after the teeth have been removed.

Unlike conventional dentures, immediate dentures are made in advance and can be positioned as soon as the teeth are removed. As a result, the wearer does not have to be without teeth during the healing period. However, bones and gums shrink over time, especially during the healing period following tooth removal. Therefore a disadvantage of immediate dentures compared with conventional dentures is that they require more adjustments to fit properly during the healing process and generally should only be considered a temporary solution until conventional dentures can be made.

Partial dentures

A removable partial denture or bridge usually consists of replacement teeth attached to a pink or gum-coloured plastic base, which is connected by metal framework that holds the denture in place in the mouth. Partial dentures are used when one or more natural teeth remain in the upper or lower jaw. A fixed (permanent) bridge replaces one or more teeth by placing crowns on the teeth on either side of the space and attaching artificial teeth to them. This “bridge” is then cemented into place. Not only does a partial denture fill in the spaces created by missing teeth, it prevents other teeth from changing position. A precision partial denture is removable and has internal attachments rather than clasps that attach to the adjacent crowns. This is a more natural-looking appliance.

Are there alternatives to dentures?

Yes, dental implants can be used to support permanently cemented bridges, eliminating the need for a denture. The cost is usually greater, but the implants and bridges more closely resemble the feel of real teeth. Dental implants are becoming the alternative to dentures but not everyone is a candidate for implants. Consult your dentist for advice.

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