Over time, teeth can break or chip due to decay, large fillings, trauma such as a fall, a root canal, or aging. Artificial crowns are often the best solution to re-strengthen a weak tooth. They fit over the prepared existing tooth and replace the natural crown.
If a tooth is too badly damaged or decayed to save with a crown, bridges are usually the treatment of choice. They consist of an artificial tooth anchored to the adjacent natural teeth.
Crowns and bridges are often made of porcelain and metal alloy. Porcelain is strong and can be made to match the colour of natural teeth. It’s resistant to staining and can be cleaned. Metal alloy is strong, hard, and durable. Especially used for molars, they withstand the forces of grinding and crushing. Both are well-tolerated by the gum and cheeks.
Apart from chewing and biting, teeth replacement may also be used to:
- Improve appearance and speech
- Prevent damage to other teeth
- Prevent gaps from shifting
The treatment best for you will depend on your dental and medical history, x-rays of your teeth and jaws, and an oral examination. The specialist for these treatments is called a prosthodontist.
You will need at least two appointments. In some cases, you may need a root canal filling before a treatment.
On your first visit, your prosthodontist will take impressions of your upper and lower teeth. This will show how they fit together when your jaws are closed. Your tooth is then drilled down by 1-2 millimetres, shaped, and another impression is taken to record the difference. A temporary crown is then placed to protect the prepared tooth. Avoid chewing on this tooth in the meantime.
At the second visit, the temporary crown is removed and replaced with the new one. If the shape and colour match with your tooth, it is then cemented. After fitting, you should tell your dentist if there is discomfort or strange sensations and minor adjustments will be done.
Preparation for a bridge
Bridges are prepared similarly to crowns. The teeth are shaped then fitted with crowns which serve as anchors for the replacement tooth. The whole piece is then cemented firmly.
Hygiene and care
Regular dental check-ups are important. Extra attention must be paid around the margins when flossing and brushing. Superfloss are available for cleaning under a bridge. Your dentist/prosthodontist will show you how to clean your crowns and bridges properly.
- Infection in the pulp or in the gums. This is a small risk and can be avoided by additional steps in hygiene.
- Pain or discomfort may occur and shouldn’t last beyond two days. If pain persists, contact your dentist/prosthodontist.
- Altered feeling in the mouth because of change in tooth size. Tell your dentist/prosthodontist of any discomfort in your mouth after treatment.
- A crown may be dislodged but can be cleaned, disinfected, and re-cemented.
- Allergic reactions to alloy or porcelain are rare but must be brought to your dentist/prosthodontist’s attention.