What is a crown?
There are times when the damage to a tooth is too much for a simple filling. If the tooth does not have to be extracted and there’s enough of its structure left to be covered, a crown could be the solution.
A crown is kind of cap in the shape of a tooth that fits over and completely covers whatever is left of the real tooth beneath it. It can serve many functions, including:
- Improving the strength of the tooth, so it does not fracture when it is involved in biting or chewing
- Improving the color or shape of a tooth
- Protecting a tooth that has had root canal
- Covering dental implants
What is a bridge?
A bridge replaces one or more missing teeth. It has a crown that goes over the teeth at either end of where the bridge is to anchor the bridge in the mouth.
Besides filling in gaps and giving you a lovely, full smile, a bridge has other functions:
It can even out your bite, so the top and bottom teeth meet properly. This is not only important for chewing and speaking but can help you avoid what is known as TMJ Dysfunction. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. It is the joint where your lower jaw (which is the movable part) is attached to the upper joint. As with any joint, it can be dislocated, to a greater or less or degree. This can affect your ability to chew and speak properly, and can be quite painful.
Similarly, you may be familiar with the idiom “Nature abhors a vacuum.” It refers to the fact that unfilled or open spaces actually go against natural laws. This applies to teeth, as much as anything else. When one or more teeth are missing, the teeth on either side of the gap, with nothing to anchor them in place, start drifting to fill that gap. The result is that the bone around the teeth can erode and eventually lose mass and change shape, the drifting teeth become weaker in their sockets and have a tendency to become loose.
Evening out your bite also distributes the force you us when you chew, so that there is not a lot of extra stress on one area of the mouth or another.
Making a crown
For a crown, it begins with your dentist making a mold of your reshaped tooth (or teeth). This is done by filling an arched tray with paste or putty and having you bite down into it. This gives both the shape of the tooth as well as the shape of your bite. While the mold is being fabricated by the lab, you will have a temporary crown placed over the tooth being capped.
Making a bridge
There are several types of dental bridges, and the type selected by your dentist depends on the function it will serve. Whatever the type, creating the bridge will take several trips to dentist, as molds for both the bridge and crown(s) are created and sent to the lab for fabrication.