- Crowns and Bridges
Crowns and Bridges
These are used to restore and enhance damaged teeth or take the place of missing teeth.
A crown (also referred to as a cap) covers a damaged tooth. It not only strengthens a tooth, but can dramatically improve a tooth’s appearance, shape and alignment.
Uses for crowns:
- Replace a large filling when there is little tooth structure remaining
- Protect a weak tooth from fracturing
- Restore a fractured tooth
- Attach a bridge
- Cover a dental implant
- Cover a discolored or poorly shaped tooth
- Cover a tooth that has had root canal treatment
A bridge fills the space created by missing teeth. It consists of one or more artificial teeth cemented into place and supported by the teeth on either side.
Bridge work is both art and science, since it replaces a missing tooth functionally as well as cosmetically. The materials may be gold alloys, porcelain bonded to metal alloy, or all ceramic material designed to match your natural tooth color. The choice depends on strength, wear, and aesthetic requirements.
It is important to replace a missing tooth as soon as possible! Left untreated, the teeth surrounding the gap begin to shift inward. Teeth use their neighbors for support, so if one is missing they begin to tilt and shift into the open spaces. These changes in pressure can worsen the bite and eventually result in jaw problems such as TMJ (temporal-mandibular joint).
How bridges and crowns are made
First, an impression of your mouth is taken. This impression is sent to a lab where your crown or bridge will be custom-made to fit and match your natural tooth color. In the meantime, a temporary crown or bridge will be used until your permanent one is ready to be cemented into place.
With care and good oral hygiene, bridges and crowns are durable enough to last a lifetime.
- Tooth Extractions
The loss of a single tooth can have major impact not only upon your appearance, but also on your oral health. So it’s important to always practice good oral hygiene.
Although we use every means to prevent tooth loss, it’s sometimes still necessary to extract a tooth.
Reasons for extracting a tooth:
- Severe decay
- Advanced periodontal disease
- Infection or abscess
- Orthodontic correction
- Mal-positioned teeth
- Fractured teeth or roots
- Impacted teeth
Before a tooth is removed, an x-ray is taken to understand the shape and position of the tooth and surrounding bone.
For a simple extraction, a local anesthetic is applied to prevent pain and discomfort. The tooth is then loosened with an “elevator” tool and removed with dental forceps. Once complete, the area may be closed with one or two stitches. You’ll receive care instructions to alleviate discomfort and ensure proper healing.
- Root Canals
Root Canal Treatment
Also known as endodontic therapy, a root canal is needed when a cavity reaches all the way to the tooth pulp. (The alternative to a root canal is to extract the tooth.) Treatment may also be needed when deep restorations or trauma cause nerve damage.
When pulp becomes infected, it can eat away at the surrounding bone (this is known as an abscess). Infection is not only painful, but requires treatment since it cannot heal on its own.
The purpose of a root canal is to clean out the infected tooth pulp and disinfect the canals of the tooth.
Symptoms indicating infected tooth pulp:
- Sensitivity to hot/cold or sweets
- Pain and swelling
- Pain to biting or pressure
- Bad taste in the mouth
Note: Sometimes symptoms may not be apparent at all until a checkup.
Once the infection is resolved, the canal is filled in to prevent further infection. Usually a core build-up and crown is recommended for restoring a tooth that has undergone root canal therapy.
- Dental Implants
For anyone missing one or more teeth, a dental implant is an ideal restoration. It involves a metal post surgically positioned into the jaw. Once in place, and after the bone surrounding the implant has healed, a replacement tooth is attached to the post.
Implants provide superior benefits and are typically more expensive than other tooth replacement methods. For instance, unlike bridgework, implants don’t depend on neighboring teeth for support. Implants are also stronger than natural teeth and generally last 10-20 years.
To receive implants, you need healthy gums and adequate bone for support. You also must commit to excellent oral hygiene and regular dental visits, since both are critical to ensure long-term success for dental implants.
If all your teeth have been lost, dentures are used to restore your smile and mouth function.
There are two types of dentures:
1) Partial dentures – used when some natural teeth remain.
2) Complete dentures – used to completely replace all teeth. They are removable and may require adjustments to properly fit with the gums and mouth.
Dentures are removable replacements custom-made to resemble your natural teeth, so there should be no noticeable change to your appearance. In fact, dentures may even improve your smile!
New dentures may feel awkward or loose for the first few weeks until the muscles of your cheek and tongue learn to keep them in place. It may require some practice to get comfortable eating and speaking with dentures, but you’ll soon adjust and enjoy the benefits of a full mouth of teeth.