Crowns and bridges
What is a crown?
A crown (or cap) is a laboratory made restoration that fits over your tooth making it strong and having the shape of a natural tooth. Crowns can really give your teeth a new lease of life!
Crowns are used for several reasons:
- to rebuild badly decayed or fractured teeth
- as a permanent restoration for teeth with large fillings
- to correct minor problems in natural teeth like spacing and irregular shape
- To mask severe discolouration or developmental anomalies
What are crowns made from?
Crowns can be made from a variety of materials usually porcelain, metal or ceramic.
The most common are:
Porcelain Bonded to Metal Crown
Most crowns are made from this. The metal substructure of the crown gives it strength and the porcelain coating gives it the appearance of a natural tooth. The downside of these crowns is that as the gums move a dark line at the junction of the crown and tooth can appear due to the “shadowing” of the underlying metal. This is not a problem but can produce unsightly lines when you smile. The only way of getting rid of this line is by replacing the crown or by using the latest all ceramic crowns here at our dental surgery in St Helens. Porcelain bonded to metal crowns are available on the NHS for front and premolar teeth only.
All Ceramic Crowns
This is the latest technology in crowns. The material is very strong and since it has no metal gives a much more lifelike appearance. Also no metal means no unsightly black lines around the necks of the teeth!! This material produces really beautiful, life-like crowns.
All Metal Crowns
Shiny silver looking non-precious metal is used for crowning molar teeth. They are strong and since they can be thin are useful where there is not a lot of space between the teeth and are available on the NHS.
How long do crowns last and how do I care for them?
Crowns are made of inert materials that do not deteriorate over time. However, the underlying tooth is still prone to decay and gum disease. It is not usually the crown that fails, rather the tooth underneath it. Daily brushing and flossing is essential for maintaining good oral health as well as keeping the crown trouble-free.
The most vulnerable portion of the crown is the margin or the junction between tooth and crown.
Regular check-ups will enable your dentist to detect any problems with your crown and recommend necessary treatment.
What is a bridge?
This is a false tooth which is fixed into the mouth by attaching it to the adjacent tooth or teeth. There are two main types of bridge:
Adhesive or sticky bridges are a simple way to replace a missing tooth with minimal or no drilling! The replacement tooth is attached to a bracket or wing which is cemented to the adjacent natural tooth. We usually use just one bracket and these can be made of metal or ceramic.
They are best when the teeth next to the gap are perfect or have very small fillings in them. We have placed a lot of these and they work really well. They look great and are much cheaper and easier than an implant, involve no or little drilling and therefore are much kinder to your own teeth than a conventional bridge. The metal backed bridges are available, if indicated on the NHS but your dentist will be happy to discuss your options with you.
This is essentially a crown with a false tooth permanently attached. There is more drilling involved than an adhesive bridge and therefore it is more destructive to the underlying tooth.
However they have the advantages that they tend to fall off less frequently, greater cosmetic changes can be made to the adjacent teeth and more missing teeth can be attached to this type of bridge.