Porcelain Crowns & Bridges
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 the 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.
What can you correct with a Dental crown?
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 is the process of placing a crown?
Having a tooth crowned usually takes two appointments with most dentists, as they have the crown fabricated at a dental lab. Thanks to the CEREC system we use at Clear Lake Dental Care, in most cases we can design and place your crown in a single visit.
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 and send the information to our CEREC system. 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 will a Dental crown last?
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.
Before & After Cosmetic Crowns
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.
How is a 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.