Crown and Bridges
Teeth can be extensively weakened in many ways: dental decay, trauma, large restorations and root canals can all contribute to reduced strength. Even our increased living expectancy places more stress on our teeth. In these cases, a simple restoration may not be able to satisfactorily restore your teeth, and may require crown or bridge work.
Dental crowns – colloquially known as ‘caps’ – can help strengthen and save teeth by replacing the damaged tooth structure with material that is significantly stronger than conventional fillings. Crowns can also be used cosmetically when significant alterations to the tooth’s shape or colour are needed.
Crowns can be made of a variety of materials, with the most common ones being ceramic, metal, and ceramic bonded to metal. While each material has its individual strengths and weakness, regardless of which material is recommended and finally used, they are custom shaped to fit your requirements.
An onlay or inlay, sometimes known as a half crown, is also a type of dental crown which replaces lost tooth structure. It can be more appropriate for your teeth when there are large portions of your tooth missing, but the tooth structurally does not need a crown. In the top image, the far back tooth has a onlay to replace part of the tooth, while the front tooth has had a full crown.
Bridges are essentially crowns that also replace missing teeth. An artificial tooth ‘spans the bridge’ between two teeth that require crowns. The two crown components of the bridge provide a similar strengthening effect to the teeth.
Unlike crowns, bridges are only made from ceramic or ceramic bonded to metal, to provide a more aesthetic appearance.
Partial bridges are also available and only comprise of one crown component, while onlays and inlays are like partial crowns and have their uses when there is insufficient tooth damage to warrant a crown but enough damage that a simple restoration may not be suffice. Veneers are another type of partial crown which can help cover up aesthetic defects in front teeth.
What can I expect?
The process can comprises of a number of different steps depending on the particular requirements of the tooth, but generally require at least two appointments:
- Preparation: our dentist will modify and repair the tooth appropriately to prepare it to receive a crown or bridge. This sometimes includes root canal treatment.
- Impressions: a mould is taken of your teeth and sent to a laboratory for fabrication, taking into account colour and desired shape. This can take up to two weeks. In the interim, a temporary crown or bridge is placed on the tooth for comfort and to protect it from further damage.
- Insertion: the dental crown or bridge is received from the laboratory. We then place it on your tooth with specific dental adhesives.
Crowns and bridges can provide long lasting, aesthetically pleasing and functional replacements for extensively damaged or missing teeth. Crowns can be cleaned like normal teeth, but bridges require some special care – our dentist will advise you upon completion. In both cases, the teeth will feel smooth and natural like your own teeth, but you may find it takes some time to get used to seeing beautiful teeth inside your mouth again!
There is a trend towards cost cutting by some dental practices by having their components manufactured overseas. However, you can rest assured that all components for crown and bridge used in Dr Virginia Williams’s Dental Practice are sourced from either local Ballarat providers or those in Melbourne where necessary. We appreciate the peace of mind, accountability and quality assurance that comes with Australian standards as much as our patients do.
There are a myriad of crown and bridge options and a confusing number of situations that would benefit from them. At Dr Virginia Williams’s Dental Practice, we are happy to take the time to explain the different options to you if they become necessary. If you would like to know your options, feel free to contact us on (03) 5331 9285 for an appointment.