A crown (or “cap”) is the treatment of choice to restore strength to a tooth that has been severely compromised by cracks, breaks, root canal treatments and large areas of decay. In cases where the corner of a tooth, or the whole side of a tooth, has broken away, a filling could not withstand typical chewing pressure. When a tooth with a crack has already become symptomatic (sensitive to cold, sharp pain with chewing pressure), the placement of a crown over the tooth acts to seal the crack and give support. Often the pain problem is solved with no further treatments needed. It is also beneficial to put a crown over a cracked tooth which has not yet developed symptoms–it prevents the break, preserves the existing tooth structure, and results in a less-damaged tooth and a tooth less prone to developing further problems in the future. Porcelain crowns are also used to improve the color of teeth which have become dark from fillings or age.
A bridge is one of the restorations used to replace missing teeth. The teeth on either side of the empty space are prepared for crowns to act as anchor teeth. Then a false tooth (or teeth) fit in the empty space and join the anchor crowns, bridging the gap. Bridges restore chewing function, prevent other teeth from drifting out of their position into the missing space, maintain the balance of the bite, protect the health of the other teeth and the health of the temporomandibular joint, as well as give an esthetic appearance.
Procedures for Crowns and Procedures for Bridges
The procedure for making a crown or a bridge takes two appointments. At the first appointment the tooth is shaped so that a restoration can fit over it. An impression is taken of this shape and sent to a dental laboratory for fabrication. While the crown or bridge is being made, the tooth is covered with a temporary crown made out of tooth-colored material. When the permanent restoration returns from the lab, it is adjusted and cemented on the tooth. Porcelain (tooth-colored) crowns and bridges are often chosen for their esthetics, but in some situations a gold crown or bridge might be an excellent choice. Dr. Taylor will evaluate the conditions presented in your dentition and your desires to make sure that you have a restoration that will please you for years to come.