Dental technology has come so far over the past several years. Today, dental patients can choose from a variety of treatments depending on their individual needs. Two of the most common are crowns and bridges. Although there have been improvements in these restorations and appliances over the years, each has been around for many decades. While both crowns and bridges are tried-and-true resolutions to a variety of dental conditions, the issues resolved by each are quite different. In this article, we explore what dental problems are resolved with crown and bridge treatment.
What Is a Crown and What Problems Does it Resolve?
A crown (also known as a “cap”) is a dental restoration that is designed to cover the entire surface of a tooth, from the top of the tooth to the gum line. Crowns can be made from a variety of materials, including metal, porcelain, ceramic, zirconia, and metal fused with one of the other materials. Each crown is custom-made to fit the patient’s tooth, and they are durable restorations that typically last for many years. Dental crowns can be used to treat a wide variety of issues, including the following:
- A broken tooth – A tooth that is broken needs to be fixed right away to avoid other more serious problems from occurring. Fortunately, crowns are a great choice (and, indeed, many times the only choice) for repairing a broken tooth.
- A badly decayed tooth – A tooth that experiences severe decay is likely a good candidate for a crown. Although a filling is usually adequate for repairing a cavity, a crown may be better if the decay is so severe that removing it leaves too little of the natural tooth structure to support a filling.
- A tooth that has undergone a root canal – When infection forms in the pulp of the tooth, a root canal is typically recommended. This procedure removes the decay, as well as the pulp and the nerves of the tooth. A root canal can weaken the structure of the tooth, which is why many dentists recommend placing a crown over the top of the tooth after the root canal is complete, providing both additional protection and strength to the tooth.
- A tooth with an old filling – Old fillings (particularly those made from silver amalgam) typically need to be replaced after several years. But in many cases, removing the filling doesn’t leave much of the natural tooth behind. In these instances, a crown can very effectively restore the tooth to its full functionality.
Crowns also act as replacements for missing teeth and, as such, are often used in other dental restorations and appliances as well, such as dental implants and dental bridges.
What Is a Dental Bridge and What Problems Does it Resolve?
If you are missing one or more teeth, it’s important to choose a method to replace those teeth as soon as possible. If you don’t, you could be facing a multitude of other more serious dental issues – such as shifting of your other teeth, a misaligned bite, excessive wearing down of other teeth, and jaw problems, to name just a few. Fortunately, dental technology offers several different solutions to replace missing teeth. One of the most popular is the dental bridge. Consisting of one or more artificial teeth (i.e., crowns) mounted onto a metal frame, bridges are typically held in place in the patient’s mouth by anchoring teeth on each side of the bridge. To provide further strength to those teeth, it’s common for the dentist to affix a crown on the top of the natural teeth, thereby providing a sturdy support for the bridge.
There are three types of bridges available:
- Fixed bridge – This type of bridge is attached to a crown on either end, and those crowns are cemented onto the patient’s existing natural teeth.
- Maryland bridge – This type of bridge is attached to a metal frame with tooth-colored brackets on each end. Those brackets are bonded to the patient’s natural abutment teeth.
- Cantilever bridge – This type of bridge is intended for use in situations where only one natural abutment tooth is available to support the bridge. This bridge consists of two teeth with crowns that are next to each and located on the same side as the missing tooth space.
While it’s true that dental bridges serve one main purpose – to replace one or more missing teeth – they provide the wearer with many benefits and prevent a variety of problems from occurring, including the following:
- Chewing food properly – If you’re missing one or more teeth, it’s difficult to adequately chew your food. This may limit the types of food you can eat, and it may also negatively impact your digestive system if you aren’t able to adequately chew.
- Improving your smile – This may sound like an exercise in vanity, but it’s far from it. Studies have shown that having an attractive smile makes you feel better about yourself, giving you more self-confidence and self-esteem. And people with nice smiles are seen in a more positive light by others as well. Researchers have also found that if you smile more, you actually feel better!
- Improving your speech – If missing teeth are impeding your ability to speak clearly, it can make you feel embarrassed and uncomfortable in social situations. And maintaining healthy social contacts is an important part of maintaining overall good health. A dental bridge can help you speak normally and restore your confidence in social situations.
- Preventing bone loss – Losing teeth – even losing a single tooth – can compromise the health of your jawbone. That’s because bone tissue needs to be stimulated in order to remain healthy. Normally, when it comes to the jawbone, that stimulation is provided by the roots of your teeth. So if those roots are no longer doing their job, your jawbone can weaken and deteriorate over time.
To find out more about what dental problems are resolved with crown and bridge treatment, and to determine what treatment is best for you, contact your dentist today and schedule an appointment.