Crowns & Bridges

Damaged or missing teeth can do more than just spoil a great smile. They can cause your front teeth to be pushed forward, which can create unsightly spaces, and alter your bite, which over time can affect your facial features. Crowns and bridges are two solutions that can help remedy these problems and give you back the confidence to smile.

Badly Damaged Teeth replacement or Repairing

Crowns and bridges are restorative procedures that can help you regain a properly functioning mouth and a naturally youthful smile.

While dental veneers provide a relatively simple and cost effective solution for crooked, worn, chipped and gapped teeth, a crown (sometimes referred to as a ‘cap’) may be a better (or even the only) solution for teeth that are badly damaged or severely weakened by decay. On the other hand, if a tooth is missing, or there is not enough tooth structure left for a crown, you may require a bridge. These are sometimes called a ‘fixed partial denture’. Missing teeth can also be replaced by implants.

There are several types of crowns and bridges. The best choice depends on a variety of factors, including the position of the tooth or teeth being restored, the complexity of the problem and the health of your gums.

To find out which solution is best for you, simply make an appointment with a Holistic Dental practitioner in Melbourne. We have many years of experience in this very precise and specialised area of dentistry.

Importance of Tooth Restoration

Every tooth in your mouth is there for a reason. With a full set of healthy undamaged teeth, the force we exert when biting and chewing is distributed evenly. Each tooth does the job for which they were designed. However when a tooth becomes broken, damaged, worn-down or decayed, your ‘good’ teeth have to do extra work, and your facial muscles are subjected to unnatural pressure. That’s why, if there’s sufficient healthy bone available, it’s important to try to save any teeth that have become damaged.

When Dental Crowns or Bridges needed?

dental crown is a long-lasting custom-made restoration that fits over the visible portion of your existing tooth and replaces its natural crown. Here are some situations where we have recommended the use of dental crowns:

  • To protect a tooth that has been weakened through large fillings or a root canal treatment.
  • To restore a tooth that has been broken or worn down (for example, through tooth grinding).
  • To hold a dental bridge in place.
  • To cover a crooked tooth or mask one that’s badly stained.
  • To provide some type of cosmetic modification, such as lengthening the upper teeth.

A dental bridge literally bridges the gap created by one or more missing teeth. It is supported by natural teeth and consists of two crowns for the teeth either side of the gap, and a false tooth that fills the gap. Bridges can be used to:

  • Assist you to chew and speak properly.
  • Help maintain the shape of your face.
  • Evenly distribute the force you exert when biting and chewing.
  • Prevent your remaining teeth from becoming misaligned or being pushed out of their correct position.

Whichever treatment is chosen, a crown or bridge provides you all the functional benefits of a healthy mouth with undamaged teeth, and the smile-worthy confidence of natural-looking teeth.

Which Materials We Us for Dental Crowns and Bridges?

Crowns and bridges can be made from a variety of materials including stainless steel, metal alloys, porcelain fused to metal, all-resin, all-ceramic and all-porcelain. Bridges are usually supported by a metal framework.

The type of material used depends on your age, the type of problem being remedied, the position of the tooth (or teeth) being treated – and more. Some materials are also less expensive than others.

Stainless steel crowns are most often used as a temporary measure, such as protecting a child’s primary tooth from being exposed to further decay. Ceramic and porcelain provide the best colour match, which makes them popular for use on front teeth. However for molars, porcelain and metal alloy provide the strength, hardness and durability required to withstand the forces of grinding and crushing.

How Long Dental Crowns and Bridges Does Take?

Depending on the material used, a crown or bridge can last five to 15 years. With good oral hygiene and regular checkups they may last even longer.

Procedure for Fitting a Dental Crowns

You will usually require two appointments for fitting a crown. On your first visit, your Holistic Dental practitioner will examine and prepare the tooth, and on the second visit the permanent crown will be placed over the tooth.

Here’s a bit more detail about the process:

First visit – We will first make sure that the root and bone surrounding the tooth being crowned is sound and healthy. This may involve taking X-rays. If there is decay or the risk of infection, this will need to be treated with the relevant procedure such as a root canal.

Once this has been done we will use a special gel or putty that’s fitted into a jaw-shaped tray to take an impression of your upper and lower teeth. This impression will be used when manufacturing the crown to ensure it fits correctly and won’t affect your bite.

Next, the area is numbed with a local anaesthetic and the damaged tooth is filed down along the chewing surface and sides to make room for the crown. (If a large area of the tooth is missing, the tooth will be built up instead of reduced, so that it can support the crown.)

Once the tooth has been reshaped, a second impression is taken to record the changes in the prepared tooth. The two sets of impressions will be sent to a dental technician who will use them to make the new crown.

Finally, we will fit a temporary crown (usually made from acrylic and fitted with temporary adhesive) to protect the tooth until the permanent crown is fitted. It’s recommended that during the period you have the temporary crown you should chew on the other side of your mouth and avoid hard or sticky foods. Similarly, when flossing, slide the floss out rather than lifting it up. Doing this could pull off the temporary crown.

Second visit – When you return to have your permanent crown fitted, we will first remove the temporary crown before placing the new one over the shaped tooth to ensure it fits properly and is the correct colour.

The new crown is then cemented into place. The cement should set in less than one hour and reach its full strength within 24 hours.

The crown should feel comfortable in your mouth and we will check to see that your bite is correct and make any adjustments that are needed.

How is a Dental Bridge Fitted?

The procedure for fitting a dental bridge is fairly similar to those for a crown and usually requires two or three visits to your Holistic Dental practice.

During the first visit, the teeth that will form the anchor for each side of the bridge are prepared. Using a drill, we reshape the teeth by removing a small portion of enamel to allow a crown to be placed over them. The crowns will hold the bridge and replacement tooth in place.

We then take an impression of the teeth, which will serve as a model for the dental technician making the bridge, crowns and replacement tooth. You’ll then be fitted with temporary crowns to protect the exposed teeth until the bridge has been fitted.

On your second visit the temporary crowns will be removed and the new bridge fitted, adjusted and firmly cemented in place. That’s it!

The only other thing you’ll need to do is come back in a couple of weeks so we can check that the bridge is sitting properly in your mouth and isn’t affecting your bite.

Possible Complications and Risks with Dental Crowns and Bridges

In most cases, dental crowns and bridges are fairly straightforward procedures with relatively few complications. However it’s important to be aware of the risks and know what types of problems may occur.

If the tooth being prepared for a crown is not strong enough, it will require either a replacement filling or other restorative work before it can be shaped. Doing this will minimise the risk that the tooth breaks during preparation.

Crowns and bridges are often initially sensitive to temperature and pressure. Normally this goes away within a few weeks, however if it persists, it could indicate that the crown or bridge isn’t sitting properly, or that the tooth pulp has been damaged. If the discomfort and sensitivity remain, it’s important to make an appointment to see your Holistic Dental practitioner.

Eating sticky foods such as toffees or caramels; incorrect brushing and flossing; poor dental hygiene; or weakening of the cement, can all cause a crown or bridge to loosen. If you notice any movement you should immediately visit your Holistic Dental practitioner. A loose crown or bridge can result in decay of the remaining tooth structure.

Although it’s rare, some people can have an allergic reaction to the metal alloy or porcelain that’s used in manufacturing crowns and bridges. If you believe you’re having an allergic reaction, contact your Holistic Dental practitioner as soon as possible.

Required Care After Dental Crowns and Bridges

Dental crowns and bridges usually require reasonably minimal after care, however maintaining good oral hygiene through regular brushing and flossing is very important. It’s also recommended to have twice yearly check-ups, which should include thorough cleaning by one of our dental hygienists who will also demonstrate the best way of making sure you clean areas that have the potential to become food traps or present other risks.

If you’re a smoker, the fitting of a crown or bridge is a good reason to give up. You’ll not only maintain stronger teeth by not smoking, but also have less chance of your new teeth becoming stained or discoloured. After all, now that you have a great smile, why not keep it that way?