In the contemporary field of dentistry, there exists a wide range of techniques to restore the natural appearance and functionality of teeth. Among these methods, crowns and bridges stand out as common solutions for addressing issues such as tooth damage, decay, or non-vital teeth.
While the terms “crown” and “bridge” may be familiar to many, the specifics of these treatments remain relatively unknown.
What are Crowns?
Crowns, often referred to as dental “caps,” are meticulously crafted covers designed to fit snugly over a tooth. Their primary purpose is to safeguard and strengthen the tooth while also enhancing its aesthetic appeal. Crowns can be fashioned from various materials, but in modern dentistry, porcelain and zirconia have emerged as popular choices due to their superior durability and strength.
These contemporary crowns are skillfully designed to not only match the color of natural teeth but also replicate their shape and size, making them virtually imperceptible to the naked eye.
When a tooth has deteriorated to a certain extent, dentists typically discourage the use of a simple filling to salvage it. Instead, they recommend a more substantial restoration known as a “buildup,” which involves placing a large filling inside the tooth. Subsequently, the tooth is carefully reshaped by removing approximately one to two millimeters from all sides.
This reshaping process reduces the natural tooth’s size, creating a suitable foundation for the dental crown to be affixed.
The crown fabrication and cementing process typically unfolds across two appointments. During the first visit, the dentist performs the buildup procedure, reshapes the tooth, and takes a precise impression of the prepared tooth. This impression is then sent to a dental lab for the creation of the permanent crown.
In the interim, a temporary crown, composed of a resin material, is fashioned to restore the patient’s smile and occupy the space. The final step occurs when the permanent crown returns from the lab, usually within two weeks.
At this point, the patient returns for the removal of the temporary crown and the cementing of the permanent one.
What are Bridges?
A dental bridge is essentially a structure consisting of three or more crown units. It serves as a solution to fill the gap caused by a missing tooth within the oral cavity. The artificial tooth, referred to as a pontic, is suspended between two adjacent “anchor” teeth. Bridges present an alternative to dental implant placement.
However, there is a noteworthy drawback: the process of placing a bridge involves filing down the two anchor teeth by about one to two millimeters, preparing them for the bridge’s installation. The process of preparing teeth for a bridge is essentially identical to crown preparation and placement.
In some instances, the two anchor teeth flanking the absent tooth are entirely healthy, and the placement of the bridge can weaken these perfectly sound teeth. It is for this reason that dentists frequently recommend single implant placement as the preferred treatment, with bridges serving as an alternative option.
Making Informed Choices
By gaining insight into the workings of crowns and bridges, individuals can make more informed decisions about their dental treatment. Consultation with a dentist is essential to determine whether a crown or a bridge is the most suitable solution for one’s unique dental needs. These discussions will consider factors like the patient’s oral health, aesthetic preferences, and long-term dental goals.
While the intricacies of these procedures may not be widely known, understanding their functions and applications can empower you to make an informed decision about your dental care.
Therefore, whether one requires the reinforcement and aesthetic enhancement of a tooth with a crown or the replacement of a missing tooth with a bridge, working with an experienced dentist is the first step towards achieving a healthier and more confident smile.