Crowns & Bridgework
Being a great Palm Beach Gardens dentist is about being an artist as well as a scientist; dental crowns offer a perfect example of this. A dental crown or “cap” is a covering that fits over a damaged, decayed or unattractive tooth. It can even replace a tooth entirely as part of dental bridgework.
A crown completely covers a tooth above the gum line. This is in contrast to a dental veneer, which only covers a tooth’s front surface and needs natural tooth structure to support it. Therefore, if a tooth is missing a significant amount of structure above the gum line, a crown would be the restoration of choice.
Crowns allow damaged teeth to perform as they were naturally intended again through the strength they provide. Today’s high technology dental ceramics make porcelain crowns virtually indistinguishable from natural teeth. The original appearance of the tooth can additionally be improved upon in the development of crowns.
There are other materials besides porcelain that we can use to make dental crowns, depending on what qualities are most important. For durability, cast gold can’t be beat. However, this is not always the most aesthetic choice — especially towards the front of the mouth. Other possibilities include porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns (PFM), which have a metal interior for strength and a porcelain exterior for a more natural appearance, and all-porcelain crowns with zirconia, representing the strongest ceramic. We would be happy to discuss the pros and cons of these various options with you.
Capping or Crowning a Tooth
Step-by-Step Dental Crowns – Capping or crowning teeth on average takes two or more appointments. At the first appointment, the tooth or teeth are prepped in-order to receive a new crown. First, it is shaped to fit inside the new covering. This will involve some drilling to give the tooth a uniform shape. The tooth and the surrounding area will be numbed beforehand. If there is very little tooth structure left to begin with, the tooth may have to be built up with filling material, rather than filed down, to support the crown.
After the tooth is prepared, impressions of your teeth are taken, either digitally or with reliable, putty-like impression materials, and sent to the dental laboratory. There, the impressions will be used to make models of your teeth for the creation of a crown. The models will serve as guides to the highly skilled lab technicians, who will ensure that your new crown is designed to enhance your smile and function well within your bite.
Before you leave the office, a temporary crown will be attached to your tooth to protect it until the permanent crown is ready. At the second visit, your permanent crown will be attached to your tooth with either a resin that hardens when exposed to a special light source, or a type of permanent cement.
Creating a Bridge
Crowns can also be used to create a lifelike replacement for a missing tooth. This is done with bridgework, which spans the space of the missing tooth and requires at least three crowns. Two of those crowns will be placed over healthy teeth on either side of the missing tooth; these healthy teeth are referred to as abutment teeth. Abutment teeth act as supports for on either side of a third crown in place between the abutment teeth, which is termed a pontic. In the case of additional teeth needing to be replaced, additional crowns will also be required in bridging the area between the abutment teeth.
The number of abutment teeth necessary to replace missing teeth is influenced by the number of missing teeth, the size, and length of the abutment tooth roots, the amount of bone support each abutment tooth has, as well as where in the mouth the missing tooth is located. For example, if you have three missing teeth, four abutment teeth may be necessary, thereby creating a seven-tooth bridge. Engineering and designing of the bridge require an understanding of how to replace teeth, as well as the biology of the supporting gum and bone tissue.
Care for Your Bridgework & Crowns
Bridgework and crowns require the same careful, thorough care as your natural teeth to prevent tooth decay. In-order to reduce dental plaque build-up you should be sure to floss and brush all of your teeth whether natural or restored. When you have crowns, it is even more important to maintain your regular schedule of cleanings at the dental office. Avoid using your teeth as tools (to open packages, for example). If you have a grinding habit, wearing a nightguard would be a good idea to protect your teeth and your investment.
If you have any questions about our dental services, please call our Palm Beach Gardens, Florida dental office at (561) 624-2224 or visit our website’s home page for additional helpful links.