From crowns to bridges- understanding major dental treatments Image

01 JUNE 2021

From crowns to bridges- understanding major dental treatments

A common goal of dental treatment is to restore the appearance and function of teeth so that they work in harmony with each other. Teeth have a direct influence on the way we bite, chew and talk as well as how we look. When teeth are damaged or missing, it can result in pain or have a flow-on effect to other areas of our life. When teeth are moderately to extensively damaged, it may not be possible to restore them to function by fillings alone and more complex dental treatment becomes necessary. Depending on the individual problem, more advanced dental treatments can help to permanently replace missing teeth with artificial teeth or strengthen and cover existing teeth, so they are protected against further damage.  Dental treatments can also improve the appearance of the teeth and impact self-confidence. Book an appointment with your dentist for guidance on what the best option may be for you.

What is a dental crown?

Dental crowns, also known simply as crowns or caps, are custom made restorations that are placed over weakened, damaged or broken teeth to restore their strength, shape, size, and appearance.

Crowns may be required:

  • To protect or prevent teeth that have been weakened by extensive tooth decay, from breaking further
  • To support a tooth that has cracked or crazed with multiple fine cracks present
  • To repair an already broken, or severely worn tooth
  • Where there is not enough sound tooth structure remaining to support a conventional filling
  • To protect an extensively restored tooth
  • To cover and improve the appearance of misshapen or severely discoloured teeth
  • To strengthen and seal teeth after root canal treatment
  • To restore a dental implant
  • To help hold a replacement tooth as part of a dental bridge

Crowns are commonly made from tooth coloured porcelain or ceramic, though they can also be manufactured from gold or other metal alloys where extra strength is required in the case of patients who may be tooth clenchers or grinders. 

What is a dental bridge?

A dental bridge can be recommended when there is one or more teeth missing.  Bridges span the gap caused by missing teeth and help to keep the remaining teeth in their correct position. A special dental cement (adhesive) is used to anchor and attach a bridge to the teeth (or implants) at both ends of the gap. Replacement teeth are attached to the bridge and colour matched to the surrounding teeth. 

What is a dental implant?

A dental implant is an artificial tooth root made from titanium to replace a missing tooth or number of teeth within the jawbone. Titanium implants are inserted into the space in the jawbone left by a missing tooth. A dental crown or bridge can then be attached to an implant. Dental implants are suitable for most healthy adult patients who have good oral hygiene, are free from gum disease and are ideally non-smokers. Implants can only be placed when the jaw has stopped growing and as such are generally not suitable for patients younger than 18 years of age.

What’s important to understand about dental treatments?

Any dental treatment requires careful planning and can involve multiple visits. Your dentist will discuss all suitable options with you, including their advantages, disadvantages, alternative options and costs so that you are able to make an informed decision about your care. Dental bridges, crowns and implants are designed to last for many years, as long as they are cared for through good home oral care.

Caring for your teeth starts by:

  • Toothbrushing twice daily with a fluoridated toothpaste and flossing daily. This includes brushing the bridge/crown/implants.
  • Having regular dental visits and wearing the implant to appointments so it’s position can be checked.
  • Avoiding biting on hard objects, e.g., pencils and ice-cubes and not chewing sticky, hard foods.

References

https://www.colgate.com.au/oral-health/bridges-and-crowns/what-are-dental-crowns-and-tooth-bridges

https://www.colgate.com.au/oral-health/implants/what-are-dental-implants

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/dental-bridge-procedure