Crowns & Bridges

A crown is a dental restoration that is fitted over the remaining part of a prepared tooth and will completely cap it, making it strong and giving it the shape of a natural tooth. A crown is more commonly known as a ‘cap’.

Crowns are normally fitted in the following situations:

  • to cover a week, worn down or already broken tooth (to hold together a cracked tooth)
  • to protect a tooth after a root canal has been performed on it
  • to cover a tooth which has an extended filling
  • to cover misshapen or discolored teeth in order to improve aesthetics
  • to cover a dental implant.

The crown will be made to match the shape, shade and appearance of the other teeth as closely as possible. The color of the adjoining teeth will be recorded, to make sure that the crown looks natural and matches the surrounding teeth.

The most common method of crowning a tooth involves using a dental impression of a prepared tooth by a dentist which is then sent to a laboratory. The dental technicians will then fabricate the crown outside of the mouth on cast models. The crown will then be inserted and fitted in the patient’s mouth at a subsequent dental appointment, normally two weeks later.

The benefits of a crown include long-term durability (on average up to 10-15 years provided good oral hygiene standards are maintained) and evidence-based success as compared to other restorations or no treatment. The main disadvantages of restoration with a crown are extensive irreversible tooth preparation and higher costs than for restoration with a filling.

There are various types of crowns available currently in dentistry and they are used for different instances:

  • Porcelain Bonded Crowns are mostly used in dentistry as they are tooth colored but also provide a good durability. They are made of a metal shell on top of which a cap of porcelain is fused in a high heat oven.
  • Metal crowns (normally gold alloy) are used for their extended durability and are a good choice for back molars.
  • Zirconium Crowns are made of porcelain only materials and provide the best natural color and transparency to match the adjacent teeth. They are mostly used to restore front teeth.

A bridge is a fixed dental restoration used to replace a missing tooth (or teeth) by joining a crown permanently to adjacent teeth which will be capped as well.

Bridges can be made for the same materials as crowns and the procedure will be similar. In this case the teeth on both sides of the missing tooth will be filled down and prepared to support the bridge.

The advantage of a bridge is that is a fixed replacement; unlike dentures for instance. Bridges are more commonly used to restore missing teeth in patients which are not suitable for implant placement and its disadvantage is that the adjacent teeth will be have to be prepared and capped in order to support the bridge, whereas the dental implants won’t interfere with the teeth next to the gap. Overall it is a good choice when replacing more missing teeth or joining missing or natural teeth with an implant.