Porcelain Crowns & Dental Bridges
in Webster, TX
Dental crowns and bridges are wholly different dental prostheses, but they do have some commonality. At Clear Lake Dental Care we use bridges to replace a missing tooth or a series of teeth. We use crowns to strengthen teeth that are compromised by a large amount of decay, cracks, or trauma. Crowns also serve as the anchors for bridges.
What is a Porcelain Crown?
If you know an older person, he or she may refer to a crown as a “cap.” It’s a good way to think of a crown since a crown basically provides a cap over the top of a damaged tooth. Crowns are made of porcelain and they cover the entire visible portion of the tooth down to the gumline. If a tooth has either an overly large filling or other serious damage, it may not survive if left as is. We place a porcelain crown over the damaged tooth. This prosthetic provides strength for chewing and daily use. Crowns can also cover misshapen teeth and can fill gaps between teeth. When it comes to bridges, crowns are used as anchors on each side of the missing tooth or teeth.
We use porcelain for our crowns and the artificial teeth in our bridges for a few reasons. Dental porcelain is very strong and durable. It closely resembles the natural translucence of tooth enamel, so an artificial tooth made from porcelain is virtually indistinguishable from a natural tooth. Plus, it is highly resistant to staining.
How is a dental crown different from porcelain veneers?
Dental crowns and porcelain veneers can both be used as cosmetic improvements to teeth. For instance, a crown can be placed over a misshapen tooth, completely covering the tooth down to the gumline. On that same misshapen tooth, a veneer can be placed over the front side of the tooth, changing the visible shape.
But that’s about all the two have in common, other than both being made from porcelain.
A crown can save a badly damaged tooth from needing extraction. A tooth with a deep crack or heavy decay would be a candidate for extraction because its strength would be compromised. Placing a crown over the entire tooth returns strength to the tooth, enabling full bite force to be applied. And the patient can keep their natural tooth, which is always preferable, if possible.
Crowns also form the anchors, the abutments, for dental bridges as described elsewhere on this page. Crowns are placed on the teeth on each side of the missing tooth or teeth, and they anchor the artificial teeth on the bridge in between.
Veneers are only cosmetic, while crowns can be cosmetic or fully restorative.
Why is porcelain better for making crowns than other materials?
Formerly, most crowns were made of gold alloy. While these crowns were strong, they were also quite visible when the person talked or laughed. On front teeth, gold crowns couldn’t have been any more obvious. That’s why we prefer porcelain crowns at Clear Lake Dental Care. Dental porcelain is created in a process that builds it layer by layer. This unique finishing technique is what gives dental porcelain its slightly translucent appearance, and this is what makes porcelain so similar to natural tooth enamel. Porcelain crowns provide the perfect combination of strength and appearance. Dr. Das and our team can precisely match the color of your porcelain crown with your adjacent natural teeth. No one will know which tooth has the crown on it!
With proper care, a porcelain crown can last for decades. Plus, fully porcelain crowns don’t include mercury or other toxic metals.
Problems a Dental Crown Can Correct
Crowns can help teeth with an assortment of problems:
- Teeth with very large fillings
- Chipped teeth
- Heavily decayed teeth
- Severely worn teeth (maybe from bruxism)
- Severely discolored teeth
- Broken or fractured teeth
- Teeth that have had a root canal
- Teeth on both sides of a bridge
What’s the difference between a dental bridge and a dental implant?
At Clear Lake Dental Care & Implant Center, our name shows our belief in dental implants. We believe they are far and away from the best option for replacing a missing tooth or two. However, they do require more time for placement in most cases, and replacing more than one or two teeth may be cost-prohibitive for the patient. That’s where a dental bridge comes in as an alternative for replacing missing teeth.
The true difference is how the prosthetics are anchored. Dental implants get their name from the implant base, a titanium “implant” shaped like a screw. This implant is screwed down into the former socket from the natural tooth root. Because the body accepts titanium, your jawbone then grows around the implant, making it a part of your jaw. A post is attached to the implant, and an artificial tooth (crown) is attached to the post. Now the dental implant feels and functions just like a natural tooth, and it is likely to last the rest of your life.
A bridge cannot have the same strength, as it is not anchored into the jawbone in the locations of the missing tooth or teeth that the bridge is replacing. Bridges are anchored by the crowns placed on the abutment teeth on each side of the gap. This means the center of the bridge with the artificial teeth cannot be as strong as a dental implant. That’s why bridges can break when a person chews something really hard. Overly chewy foods can sometimes dislodge a bridge. In contrast, implants don’t move, and they cannot come off once the jawbone has fully grown around the implant base.
Dental Crown Placement Process
Having a tooth crowned usually takes two appointments with most dentists, as they have the crown fabricated at a dental lab.
First, we prepare the tooth to be crowned. We remove any decay or damaged areas, and then the tooth is cleaned. Next, 1-2 mm of the tooth’s enamel is removed on all sides and on the top. Why? This is necessary to make room for the crown that will overlay the tooth. Once the tooth is shaved down, we take various measurements. We then create a 3D image of the tooth and design your crown right in the system. We send the design information to the milling station, which takes a block of dental porcelain and mills the crown to our exact specifications. In 30 minutes or so, it’s ready.
We first check your new crown for its color match with your adjacent teeth, and then we check the fit, making minor adjustments as needed. When satisfied with the fit, we’ll permanently cement the crown onto your tooth and you’re done.
How long is the process to receive a porcelain crown at Clear Lake Dental
Because we have in-house lab and milling capabilities at Clear Lake, getting a crown only takes a single appointment. Preparing the tooth by shaving down all the sides and the top usually takes about 30 minutes. Then we gather the measurements we need to send to our in-house design and milling lab. That takes another 15 minutes or so. Milling the crown in our lab takes another 30 minutes. Checking the color match, fit, and your bite takes another 15 minutes or so, and then the crown is permanently cemented down. From start to finish you can expect a process lasting just 90 minutes to two hours. Contrast that with other dentists, where you have to wait for a couple of weeks between your two appointments while your crown is fabricated at an off-site dental lab.
Is there recovery after the crown placement procedure?
How do I maintain my porcelain crown?
Can I Have Both My dental implants and crowns done at Clear Lake Dental?
Yes. One of the unique things about our office is that our dentists have extensive training and experience in placing and restoring implants. It’s much more convenient to have every step of your implant procedure completed at the same office.
Porcelain Dental Crown Lifespan
The lifespan of a crown can be influenced by your home hygiene. With a good home regimen, your crown should last up to 20 years.
Is it painful to get a porcelain crown?
The only aspect of the crown procedure that involves any potential for discomfort is when the healthy tooth mass is shaved down on all sides and on top to make room for the crown to fit over the tooth while occupying the same space as the natural original tooth. Before Dr. Das, Dr. Pham, or Dr. Acevedo shave down the tooth, we first provide a local anesthetic to the tooth so that you don’t feel a thing. The second step of placing the crown is completely painless.
Afterward, there can be some slight soreness from shaving down the tooth prior to placing the crown, but it is nothing that cannot be handled easily with over-the-counter pain medication. And most patients don’t even require that.
Would there ever be a reason a porcelain crown would need to be removed?
Porcelain crowns are very durable, and they can last for decades. However, they are tied to the health of the natural tooth underneath the crown. The natural tooth can develop decay or gum disease surrounding the tooth can create problems with the strength of the tooth’s attachment to the jawbone.
So, while a porcelain crown would rarely need to be removed on its own (unless it cracks or becomes otherwise damaged), it could have to come off if the underlying tooth has developed a cavity or there is an abscess caused by gum disease or other problems. If the problems with the natural tooth can be addressed successfully, without the tooth needing extraction, the crown may be able to be reattached.
Dental Crowns Before And After
See What Our Patients Are Saying!
“If you want a pleasant dental experience try Clear Lake Dental Care. I just completed having intensive dental treatment, including root canal, several crowns, and a crown bridge. Needless, to say, in the past my experiences have not been the greatest. Now, I no longer fear going to the dentist. I love the nitrous oxide gas! From the receptionist to the dental assistants to the dentists, they take their time with you and explain in detail whatever you need to know. I m very pleased with my dental work, and am pleased to recommend Clear Lake Dental Care.” — Jo Ann
To read more patient testimonials, click here!
What is a dental bridge?
As the name implies, a dental bridge spans the gap created by a missing tooth or teeth. Like a bridge you drive across, a dental bridge has three parts: two crowns (called the abutment teeth) on each side of the gap and the span in the middle. In this case, the span is an artificial tooth or teeth (called the pontics). Bridges are made as a single piece and are permanently cemented onto the two abutment teeth.
This is a description of a traditional bridge, but “cantilever bridges” are used when there are healthy teeth for anchoring on only one side of the missing tooth or teeth. “Maryland bridges” are used on the front teeth.
Who is an ideal candidate for a dental bridge?
Good candidates for dental bridges are missing a tooth or a couple of teeth and they do not seek to replace those teeth with dental implants. Sometimes patients opt to not replace a tooth that has either needed extraction due to excessive decay or was lost due to trauma. They either don’t want to spend the money or see the replacement process as a hassle. But this can create serious problems for your oral health. Teeth remain in place because of the pressure they receive from the teeth next to them. When that pressure is gone because one or more teeth are missing, the adjacent teeth tend to slide over into the gap. This creates problems with your bite and the alignment of your smile.
Here are several reasons patients opt to have a dental bridge:
- Replace missing teeth
- Maintain facial shape
- Prevent the adjacent teeth from moving into the gap
- Restore chewing and/or biting capability
- Restore speaking diction
- Restore the cosmetic appearance of your smile
- Replace a partial, removable denture
How is a dental bridge placed?
Like our veneers, porcelain bridges require two visits to our office, but you will leave with a beautiful temporary smile after just one. First, we prepare the two abutment teeth for their crowns. That process is described above. Once the teeth are prepared, we take various measurements and send them to our lab to create the bridge. While your new bridge is being prepared, we will place a temporary bridge to give you a beautiful smile while protecting your prepared teeth.
When your new bridge is finished, you will come back to our office and we will make sure the bridge matches your adjacent teeth. We will then permanently cement the bridge onto your teeth to give you a beautiful, long-lasting smile.