Crowns are artificial coverings designed to improve the appearance of teeth or to restore badly broken down teeth. Bridges replace missing teeth using either crowns or metal ‘wings’ supported on the teeth either side of the space.
Who needs crowns and bridges?
Crowns may be required if the teeth are too badly decayed or broken down and therefore need to be enclosed by the crown, in order to save them. They may also be used to improve the colour or shape of the teeth. Bridges are used to fill up small gaps in the mouth where teeth have been lost or removed.
Can anyone have crowns or bridges?
Crowns or bridges are not usually provided for young patients until the teeth and jaws are fully developed. It is also important that the gums and supporting tissues are healthy. Good tooth brushing and the use of dental floss are therefore essential before and following treatment. Your dentist will advise you about this.
What materials are used for crowns and bridges?
Front crowns and bridges are usually constructed of porcelain (or other ceramic), or porcelain with metal backing. Further back in the mouth metal and porcelain, or metal alone may be used to give greater strength.
How long does crowns and bridges treatment take?
Crowns and bridges usually take at least two visits (some ceramic systems can be manufactured in the surgery and may not require two visits). The first visit entails the preparation of the tooth/teeth by smoothing it down, usually with a local anaesthetic. An impression is taken and temporary crown is constructed. The crown or bridge is then fitted usually about one or two weeks later.
How long do crowns and bridges last?
As long as the teeth and gums are maintained by both patient and dentist, crowns and bridges can last for many years. However, no absolute guarantee can ever be given and they may need to be replaced in time. Your dentist is best placed to advise if there are particular reasons that may shorten the normal lifespan of a crown or bridge.
Are there any alternatives to crowns or bridges?
If a tooth is badly broken down, or in very poor shape, then there may be no alternative to a crown. Gaps in the mouth may be replaced by dentures or implants instead of a bridge. Please discuss this with our dentist if you are uncertain.