You may have stumbled upon dental infomercials or magazine advertisements that depict the modeling artist with a beautiful and gleaming set of pearly whites. If you look at the mirror and are not instantaneously gratified by the way your teeth look, there may be various culprits that offend your smile, particularly stained, chipped, or grossly decayed teeth. Various such dental anomalies can put a visceral dark cloud over your confidence and self-image and if left untreated can lead to perpetual calamity in your mouth and your entire body.
In fact, studies suggest that approximately 22% of Americans are unhappy with their smile and have been witness to sheer rejection for career projections and love interests. Luckily, there are warranted solutions to these pesky dental hitches- introducing dental crowns and bridges. These dental devices fit over your teeth like a glove and mask all the snaggy aesthetics, giving you the stunning smile that you truly deserve.
What are dental crowns and bridges?
Dental crowns and bridges are fixed prosthetic dental devices or ‘artificial teeth’ that can be fitted over your existing compromised teeth to restore their form, function, and appearance. Teeth that have been lost or fractured due to accidents or acute trauma from contact sports are the prime candidates for crowns and bridges. They help preserve the remaining tooth structure, provide additional support to the teeth, and increase efficiency while performing mundane activities like eating or chewing while also preventing the further decline of oral health and ability.
Some patients may have crowns that don’t look beautiful anymore or that are defective and in need of replacement. Dr. Divya is happy to discuss options with you.
How do dental crowns work?
A dental crown is fitted onto a tooth like a ‘cap’ to not only restore the structure of the damaged tooth but also to improve the quality of shape, alignment, and appearance of the tooth in the oral cavity. Prior to dental capping, the tooth is prepared to accommodate the outstanding size of the dental crown. The crown is then affixed onto the tooth surface with a bonding agent, making it ‘permanent’ and irremovable unless dentist intervention is undertaken. Crowns may also be used to outwardly support a dental implant.
The choice of material used to fabricate a dental crown is dependant on the location and need of the crown. Ceramic or porcelain dental crowns with variations such as all-ceramic, all-metal, or ceramic-on-metal can significantly elevate the appearance of the crown while assimilating to look as natural as possible in the mouth. Metal and gold alloys are tougher dental materials and may be utilized to encapsulate rear teeth. Besides the evident aesthetic upgrade, dental crowns also offer great strength and support to the tooth. A long-term retrospective study in the Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry indicated that the crowns were long-lasting and the prognosis did not worsen with aging patients and increased complexity. This makes them a wonderful choice for tooth replacement.
How do dental bridges work?
In contrast to dental crowns, bridges are offered to the patient when more than one tooth is missing in the mouth. Gaps left due to multiple missing teeth can cause a deviation in normal bite and problems with the jaw, known as temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD). In order to restore the function and form in an oral cavity that has been robbed of multiple teeth, dental bridges can be instituted. A dental bridge consists of two or more specially fitted crowns or false teeth (called pontic) that are held in place by anchoring teeth (called abutments) on either side of the space formed by the missing tooth or teeth. Like dental crowns, bridges can be color and texture-matched to the natural tooth, closely replicating them.
According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), porcelain bridges are very diverse and flexible in its design capabilities and can be built into any one of the following four types:
- Traditional bridges: Pontic teeth are held in place by abutment teeth on two sides
- Cantilever bridges: Pontic teeth are held in place by abutment teeth on only one side
- Maryland bridges: A framework of metal bonded on the backs of abutment teeth are used on two sides instead of pontic.
- Implant-supported bridges: Pontic teeth are held in place by implants on two sides
When are dental crowns and bridges used?
The American Dental Association (ADA) informs that a dental crown or bridge may be affixed in the following cases:
- To restore fractured or cracked tooth
- To replace a large filling
- To protect a weak tooth from fracturing
- To cover a dental implant
- To strengthen a tooth that has undergone root canal therapy
- To cover a tooth that is discolored or poorly shaped
Crown and bridge care
Just like your natural teeth, your dental crowns and bridges will require a dedicated regimen of oral hygiene practices to prevent it from chipping or damaging. In order to prolong the lifecycle of your dental prostheses, make sure you take good care of them:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste.
- Floss in between your teeth at least once a day.
- Mouthwashes enriched with fluoride can help get rid of stray plaque.
- Avoid chewing on hard foods such as ice and candies with your prostheses
- Talk to your doctor if you are a nocturnal teeth-grinder
- Visit the dentist as regularly as possible, at least twice a year
- Avoid smoking and tobacco products as they can stain your crowns and bridges
- Avoid detrimental oral habits like nail-biting, pencil biting, etc.
How long do crowns and bridges last?
Ideally, crowns and bridges last anywhere between 7 to 15 years but may even last longer if proper oral hygiene practices are taken. The durability of your dental crowns and bridges will directly be dependent on your oral health and hygiene.
Dental crowns and bridges are great options to achieve a brilliant smile and to restore your teeth back to health. If you have been battling with broken, chipped, or stained teeth, you can overcome such problems with the help of these fixed dental prostheses. Contact your dentist today for a beautiful, picture-perfect smile!
How long your crown and bridge lasts depends on the effectiveness and regularity of your dental hygiene routine. As a general rule, they last between 7-15 years but longer periods are certainly possible with outstanding oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups.
- Avoid chewing hard foods like ice or candies, or other hard objects like pencils as it could break the dental crowns or bridges.
- If you are a nocturnal teeth-grinder, your dentist may recommend an oral brace or mouthguard for you to wear while sleeping.
- Visit your dentist regularly or at least twice a year for professional teeth cleanings.