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Crowns (or caps) are dental restorations that are placed over a tooth when conservative restorations are insufficient to restore form and function. A bridge serves to replace a missing tooth or teeth. One type of bridge consists of crowns placed on either side of the missing tooth to connect the replacement tooth or teeth to them. Another type of bridge consists of the replacement tooth attached to the adjacent teeth with wing-like appendages. Bridges can also be supported by dental implants. Crowns and bridges can be made entirely of tooth-colored material, metal, or a combination to provide optimal aesthetics. Some metal-free crowns and bridges incorporate stress-bearing materials to enhance their strength and wear-resistance.
Crowns address aesthetic needs, restore tooth function, and enhance the overall health of your mouth. In cases where teeth have large broken down fillings, a crown can protect and preserve the remaining natural tooth. To enhance your smile a metal-free, tooth colored crown can also replace an older metal/porcelain crown. Following root canal therapy, a crown is typically placed over the remaining tooth structure to preserve aesthetics and tooth function.
In cases where teeth are missing, a bridge prevents the remaining natural teeth from shifting so that dental health and facial aesthetics are not compromised. Bridges may also provide a permanent, non-removable alternative to removable partial or full dentures. Whether supported by natural teeth or implants, bridges can offer life-like aesthetics and stable chewing surfaces. The bridge can be easily maintained by brushing with modified brushing and flossing.
With both crowns and bridges, the dentist needs to shape the teeth to provide stable support and precise fit of the final restoration. Following tooth preparation, impressions are taken of the teeth, and a replica of your mouth is created for the dental laboratory to make the restoration. You and your dentist will carefully discuss the color, shape, and size of the crown(s) or bridge(s). A temporary restoration is secured to protect the prepared teeth and maintain the precise space left by the tooth until the new restoration is fabricated. If an implant-supported crown or bridge is the best option, the dentist evaluates the patient’s health and suitability for the implant placement. The dentist may also proceed with surgical planning or refer the patient to a specialist trained in implant surgery. (For details, see the ProActive Care brochure on Implants.)
When the crown or bridge is fabricated, the dentist removes the patient’s temporary restoration, and tries on the crown or bridge to verify fit and patient approval. Once the restoration is adjusted and approved, the dentist uses a luting cement or an adhesive bonding agent to permanently secure the final restoration.
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