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Dental Crowns and Bridges

What is a Crown?

Crown and Bridge A crown is a dental restoration that completely covers a single tooth with a new material. Some people also call it a “cap”. Crowns can be made from many different materials, like gold, porcelain, a tooth-colored metal called zirconia, or any combination of the above. A crown’s purpose is to restore the tooth back to normal shape and function. This means it will replace any missing tooth structure, reinforce and brace any cracks, and stabilize weakened teeth.

Crowns are necessary for teeth that have significant breakdown due to large cavities, cracks, or extreme wear. We also use crowns to protect teeth with root canal treatments, which are prone to breaking.

What is a Bridge?

A bridge is a dental treatment that uses multiple crowns connected together in order to replace a missing tooth. At the minimum, a bridge includes two crowns on either side of a “fake” tooth called a pontic. Bridges are classified according to the number of units, which just means the number of teeth they cover. The most common is a three-unit bridge, which uses two teeth as anchors for one replacement tooth.

The materials of a bridge are the same as those available for crowns. Because a bridge uses connections between teeth, it requires some changes to your oral hygiene routine in order to keep the anchor teeth healthy. A bridge is a relatively quick way to replace a missing tooth, requiring only a few weeks of lab time. Bridges are permanently cemented onto the anchor teeth; they are not removable by the patient. A bridge is an alternative tooth replacement option to a dental implant.

What does the Crown & Bridge Process Involve?

Bridge step by step
Crown step by step

Both crowns and bridges have a similar protocol in the dental office. After numbing the teeth he or she will work on, the dentist prepares the tooth (or teeth in the instance of a bridge), removing the outer layer of enamel to make room for the covering material. Then we take either a digital scan or physical mold of the prepared teeth to send for the lab to use as an exact replica of your teeth on which to make the final restoration.

During the lab time, you will wear a temporary crown or bridge made from a plastic material that we hold in place with a temporary cement. Once the final restoration is ready, you will return to our office for its delivery. We confirm the perfect fit of both crowns and bridges with a detailed evaluation including an x-ray. Once confirmed, we will use a permanent cement to attach it to your tooth or teeth. This second visit is much quicker than the first.

In general, both crowns and bridges are a two-visit process, with the temporary phase in between the two visits.

What Should I Expect After a Crown or Bridge?

The preparation of a tooth or teeth can cause some short-term pain and/or sensitivity. It is normal for the teeth under a temporary crown or bridge to be sensitive to cold air and liquids and tender to chewing for the first week. We expect any symptoms to go away within the first two weeks.

During the temporary phase, you must avoid sticky or chewy foods that could pull the provisional restoration off the tooth. You will also follow an alternative flossing protocol when you have a temporary crown. Aside from these special care instructions, the tooth or teeth should feel relatively normal after about two weeks. It is important for you to let us know if they do not.

After we place the final crown or bridge, you should be able to return to normal function immediately. If a bridge replaces a tooth that was missing for a long time, you may have an adjustment period for your lips, cheeks and tongue.

Questions / concerns?

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding your oral health, we are more than happy to sit down with you and discuss how you can achieve a beautiful, healthy smile.