Dental crowns and bridges are restorations used to restore a damaged tooth or to replace one or more missing teeth. Crowns can be placed over a tooth that’s been damaged by decay or trauma, and they can also treat cosmetic issues like cracks, chips, fractures or deep discoloration that can’t be corrected with teeth whitening. They can also act as an artificial tooth when attached to a bridge. A bridge is a device that features a metal framework and one or more artificial teeth. Bridges attach to the teeth on either side of the gap left by missing teeth. Those teeth receive crowns to provide additional protection. Crowns and the artificial teeth attached to a bridge are made of very durable materials that can be tinted to blend in with surrounding teeth.
Crowns and bridges usually require two office visits for application. Before a crown is placed on a tooth, a small amount of the tooth’s surface material must be removed to make room for the crown’s thickness. Once the tooth is prepared, an impression is made and sent to a lab that specializes in crown and bridge fabrication. Temporary crowns will be placed on the teeth to protect them while the permanent restoration is being made. At the second visit, the permanent crowns are placed on the teeth and the bridge is attached to the teeth using dental adhesives or special clips that allow the bridge to be removed for cleaning. Crowns can also be used without a bridge to restore teeth.
No, crowns and bridges can be cared for like natural teeth, with regular brushing and flossing and routine dental checkups and cleanings to keep the gums surrounding the restorations healthy and free of disease. Removable bridges can be taken out to make it easier to clean the bridge and the gums; it takes some practice to learn how to clean around a permanent bridge.
With proper care, crowns and bridges can last 15 years or longer.