Crown and Bridge

Q. What is a crown?

A crown is a “cap” that is placed over the prepared existing tooth which fully encases the tooth to restore the shape, size, and strength, and to improve its appearance. An artificial crown is often the best way to save a tooth and strengthen it.

Q. What is a bridge?

A bridge replaces one of more missing teeth. It consists of one or more crowns anchored to the adjacent natural teeth (either side of the missing tooth) with a pontic in the middle.

Q. Why should missing teeth be replaced?

Apart from chewing and biting, teeth also-

  • Improve appearance and speech
  • Prevent excessive biting forces to few teeth that cause damage by chipping or loosening
  • Prevent the teeth from shifting
  • Maintain the natural bite otherwise front teeth fan out if back teeth are lost
  • Prevent other teeth from shifting otherwise which can cause potentially increase food lodgement causing more caries and gum disease

Q. What is involved in preparing for a crown or bridge?

Once the dentist examines the tooth/teeth requiring treatment they will evaluate whether its structure is strong enough to take a crown. If there is doubt or a poor success rate predicted, the existing filling may be replaced or the structure reinforced with procedures like post and core or crown lengthening before shaping the tooth. Sometimes a tooth may need a root canal filling.

You will require atleast two appointments for preparation and fitting of a crown or bridge.

After the area is numbed with a local anaesthetic, the tooth/teeth is shaped using a drill, making it smaller by one to two millimetres. After the involved tooth/teeth is shaped within the necessary parameters into a ‘stump’, an impression is taken of the preparation and surrounding teeth. This impression is sent to a dental technician who fabricates the crown according to specifications provided.

In the meantime, a temporary crown or bridge will be placed to protect the prepared tooth/teeeth. A temporary crown or bridge is not as strong as the final crown or bridge, so it is always advised you avoid eating on it. It is also recommended you refrain from eating sticky or hard foods.

Firstly the temporary crown or bridge is removed. The new crown is placed over the reshaped tooth/teeth or bridge to check that the shade and shape is correct . If the crown is satisfactory in its fit and all other parameters, it is permanantly cemented to the tooth with dental cement. This usually sets in less than one hour and reaches full strength in 24 hours so again it is recommended to avoid eating on it, especially any sticky or hard foods.

The dentist may need to do adjustments to the crown before fitting it to ensure it is comfortable to bite on. This is where your help comes in! The dentist will partly rely on you in testing your occlusion by asking you to tap your teeth together onto some special marking paper. After you tap you will let the dentist know how it feels. If it feels too high, uncomfortable or strange in any way, then the dentist will do any necessary adjustments until both are satisfied.

Q. Now that I have a crown or bridge, how do I look after it?

Crowns and bridges ideally should last for many years. However, there is no lifetime guarantee. As with natural teeth, it depends on good dental hygiene, oral health and the forces you apply to your teeth. Therefore, regular dental check-ups are advisable. Just like your natural teeth, crowns and bridges require regular flossing and brushing, with extra attention around the margins where decay is more likely.

Poor teeth cleaning may also cause gum recession where the gum shrinks away from the neck of the tooth. This is irreversible and will not only affect the longevity of your crown or bridge but can make it look quite unpleasant especially if it is in your smile line.

Q. Are there any possible complications of crown or bridge treatment?

Please note, sometimes a tooth may need a root canal filling, and perhaps a post or foundation, before crown or bridge treatment which the dentist will assess.

Note: The aim of this general information is to educate the reader about Crowns and Bridges and may not essentially contain all aspects of the treatment. It would be beneficial to see us for a consultation to discuss the procedure and all of the associated complications.

Give us a call on (03) 5821 2388 to book an appointment and our dentist will be more than happy to answer all of your concerns.