What is a crown or bridge?
A crown (or cap) is a ceramic, metal, or combined metal/ceramic shell that fits over a tooth. There are many reasons a crown may be indicated for your tooth; large, leaking fillings, teeth with fillings on multiple surfaces, cracked or broken teeth, improperly formed enamel, cavities below the gumline, and teeth at risk of further fracture (including root canal-treated teeth) are some possible indications for a crown. A crown can also be done for cosmetic reasons, to change the shape or color of a tooth.
Fixed partial dentures (bridges) are used to replace missing teeth; they consist of crowns placed on teeth on both sides of the space, with a replacement tooth or teeth connecting within the space. A bridge is one way to replace missing teeth; implants, removable partial dentures, or leaving the space empty are all alternatives.
How are they done?
Some teeth with large fractures or cavities may require root canal treatment before crowns can be placed; if this may be the case for your tooth, it will be discussed before treatment is begun.
Local anesthetic is used to numb the area around the tooth. If your tooth has a large hole or decay, this must be cleaned and filled before the crown or bridge can be placed (this is called a buildup). Crowns and bridges involve removing tooth structure to make space, then taking impressions for the prostheses to be made at a lab, which may take between one and three weeks. In the meantime, you will wear a temporary (provisional) crown or bridge, which may or may not be tooth-colored depending on location. You will have the opportunity to participate in choosing the color of your restoration(s). If you wish to whiten your teeth, this should be done before choosing the color, since final crowns and bridges cannot be bleached. Final crowns and bridges must be kept clean to prevent leakage.
You will be given a sheet describing the proposed treatment, the benefits, risks, and alternatives, at your appointment. Feel free to ask questions at your appointment as we’ll be happy to further discuss your treatment.