Dental Crowns & Bridges
Dental crowns and bridges are wholly different dental prostheses, but they do have some commonality. At Implant Dentistry of Florida, Drs. Brown and Vaughn 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. Where do they overlap? Crowns provide the anchors on each end of a dental bridge.
At Implant Dentistry of Florida, we can provide porcelain crowns and most bridges utilizing our CEREC 3D design and milling system. This allows us to fabricate these restorations in our offices, meaning that in most cases it takes just a single appointment to have a new crown or bridge placed.
What Is a Porcelain Crown?
A porcelain crown is a dental prosthetic that completely covers an existing tooth, right down to the gum line. A crown is a means to save a tooth that has serious decay, a large filling, or maybe a crack, and is in danger of extraction. By placing a porcelain crown over the tooth, it returns strength for chewing and biting to the tooth. Crowns can also be used cosmetically to cover a tooth that is misshapen or is badly stained. Crowns are also used as the anchors for bridges.
If you’re older, you probably have heard crowns referred to as “caps.” This is an appropriate way to describe a crown, as it covers the tooth, somewhat like a cap. Caps also earned their name because they were usually made of gold and were quite visible. Our porcelain crowns, in contrast, match perfectly with your other teeth and look completely natural.
What Issues Can Dental Crowns Fix?
We use crowns on 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
CEREC Crown Process
At most dental practices, having a crown placed on a tooth is a two-appointment process. But thanks to our CEREC system, it only takes a single appointment at Implant Dentistry of Florida. Here’s how we do it.
First, we prepare the tooth to be crowned. Dr. Brown or Dr. Vaughn first removes any decay or damaged areas of the tooth, and then the tooth is cleaned. Next, to make room for the crown to fit over the tooth and not take extra space, we shave down the tooth on all sides and on the top. When the tooth is downsized, we take a series of measurements and images that we send to our CEREC 3D system. With that information, we are able to design your crown chair side in the computer software. It creates a three-dimensional image of your new crown that you can see on-screen.
If you like how it looks, we send the design information to our CEREC milling station. The system takes a block of dental porcelain and mills it to the precise design specifications in about 30 minutes. When your custom crown is finished, we check the fit and color match with your adjacent teeth. We make any minor adjustments needed, and then we cement the crown onto your tooth permanently.
Now you have a beautiful, strong, crowned tooth, and it only took a single appointment.
How Long Do Dental Crowns Last?
The lifespan of your crown is usually contingent upon the health of the tooth it fits over. If you maintain good home hygiene and keep up with your regular cleanings and exams with the team at Implant Dentistry of Florida, your crown should last up to 20 years.
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 on Highway 1, 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.
Dental Bridge Process
At Implant Dentistry of Florida we use our CEREC 3D system to design and fabricate your bridge, if possible. In some cases, however, a dental lab still needs to fabricate the bridge. Here’s the process.
During your first appointment, Dr. Brown or Dr. Vaughn prepares the two abutment teeth for their crowns. These healthy teeth need to anchor the bridge. We shave down the teeth as described in the crown procedure. Then we take the appropriate measurements and photos and send them to the CEREC system to create the bridge. Or, if necessary, we take impressions and photos and send them to a dental lab.
When your bridge is finished, we check the color match of your crowns and the artificial tooth or teeth in your bridge. Plus, we check the fit of the crowns over the abutment teeth. Once satisfied, we cement the crowns onto the abutment teeth and you’re good to go.
Again, in most cases, we can do this in a single appointment with our CEREC 3D system.
What Is the Lifespan of a Bridge?
The life of a bridge is usually dependent upon the health of the abutment teeth. If they remain healthy, a bridge can last up to 15 years or longer. Bridges really only need brushing just like your other teeth.
Are There Alternatives to Crowns and Bridges?
Crowns are a great way to save a tooth from needing extraction. They return strength and function to a tooth that is severely compromised. Really the only alternative to a crown is replacing the tooth with a dental implant. If a crown is being used to cosmetically cover a stained or misshapen tooth, porcelain veneers could be an alternate option.
Bridges replace missing teeth. An alternative is a dental implant or implants. These are based on a titanium “implant,” a screw-shaped prosthetic that is screwed down into the hole left from the natural tooth root in the jawbone. The jaw then grows around the implant, making it a part of the jaw. A post is placed into the implant and an artificial tooth atop that. We prefer dental implants for replacing teeth because they function exactly like a natural tooth and can last for decades. Still, for many patients, bridges are a more affordable option, although they don’t last nearly as long as an implant.
Schedule a Consultation
For more information on dental crowns and bridges, contact us at (321) 372-7700 to schedule a consultation. Implant Dentistry of Florida serves Melbrourne, Florida and surrounding areas.