Crown: When a tooth’s strength is compromised by breakage, chips or decay, a crown is usually the best treatment option to save and strengthen it. Crowns are often used as part of root canal treatment where the decayed portion of a tooth is removed, along with its nerves and blood supply. Crowns are fabricated and placed to fit the missing portion of the existing natural tooth above the gum line.
Bridge: Bridges are used to replace single or multiple missing teeth. Bridges are artificial teeth that are anchored to crowns placed on the existing natural teeth on either side of the gap.
Types of crowns and bridges
The most common materials used to create crowns and bridges include:
- Gold alloy
- Porcelain fused to metal crown (PFM) – the metal component is usually a gold alloy).
- Zirconia – a hard tooth-coloured material which provides an excellent aesthetic finish for the bridge or crown restorations.
All of the materials listed above are bio-safe. The type of material selected for the tooth restoration depends on the tooth’s position in the mouth and the patient’s preference. As a general rule, gold alloy is only used for crowns and bridges located in the back of the mouth.
Crowns and bridges are suitable for a number of oral issues including cosmetic enhancement, restoring function (e.g. biting and chewing), preventing shifting teeth and avoiding damage to surrounding teeth.
A crown or bridge procedure usually involves a three stage process:
- 1st stage:
An examination (including x-rays, if required), assessment and primary impression of your teeth (used to create moulds of the teeth).
- 2nd stage:
The affected teeth are cleaned and prepared to receive a crown or bridge.
This stage includes:
- Building up the inner tooth structure.
- Shaping the tooth/teeth down to the correct size and shape.
- Making a secondary impression of the prepared tooth/teeth.
- Placing a temporary colour-matched restoration over the prepared tooth/teeth.
The final stage involves the removal of the temporary crown or bridge, and bonding the permanent restoration on to the prepared tooth/teeth. Minor adjustments of the bite may be required. We always recommend a proper dental consultation to determine if a crown or bridge is a suitable restoration option. If we feel that your tooth/teeth require a more complex restoration, we may refer you to a prosthodontist who specialises in the restoration of teeth and bites.