Tooth loss isn’t something that stopped happening way back when. Even in our modern society, by the time they reach 50, the average American is missing an average of 12 teeth. But today’s dental practice allows dentists to partially or fully restore missing or damaged teeth with new and stronger materials. Two of the most common procedures are making and placing dental bridges and dental crowns. Which one is used depends on the individual patient’s needs.
At CaliDental, we see a lot of patients who need tooth restoration, and we highly recommend both bridges and crowns to them, depending on their needs. Here’s what you need to know about these good — and affordable — options.
The difficulties of tooth loss
Research indicates that your oral health risks — and risks to your overall health, as well — increase with each additional missing tooth. Some problems include:
- Jaw bone atrophies from lack of stimulation
- Gums recede, increasing risk of gum disease
- Teeth weaken on either side of gap
- Plaque builds up in gap
- Tooth decay forms on either side of gap
- Adjacent teeth move into gap, leading to crowding
All about crowns
A dental crown is a porcelain, ceramic, or metal “cap” that’s placed atop a damaged tooth or one that’s had a root canal, or is placed on an abutment following a dental implant. It both strengthens a damaged tooth and improves the tooth’s appearance, alignment, and shape. When attached to an abutment over an implant, it provides the structure necessary for proper function — it supplies pressure in the form of chewing action that stimulates jawbone growth. In addition, crowns can be used as anchors to secure a dental bridge.
- Cover large fillings when not enough tooth remains
- Protect a weak tooth from cracking
- Restore an already cracked tooth
- Cover a discolored or poorly shaped tooth
Crowns are most often made from:
- Gold and metal alloys
- Porcelain fused to metal
- Composite resin
The metal alloys are generally stronger than porcelain, but because of their color, they’re often recommended only for back teeth. Porcelain bonded to a metal shell can be used for front teeth because it’s both strong and its color can be matched to the surrounding teeth.
All about bridges
Dental bridges differ from crowns in that they close (bridge) the gap between one or more missing teeth, sitting between them instead of on top. The bridge consists of a false tooth (a pontic) held in place by abutment teeth — the teeth on either side of the gap — to which they’re cemented. Most bridges are made from porcelain to blend in with your natural teeth. Bridges come in four types:
1. Traditional dental bridge
The most common type of dental bridge, a traditional bridge, uses one or more false teeth held in place by being cemented to the abutment teeth, which may be crowns or even strong, natural teeth.
2. Cantilever dental bridge
Here, the pontic is held in place by a crown cemented to a single abutment tooth. You therefore need just one natural tooth or crown beside the gap.
3. Maryland dental bridge
Like the traditional bridge, the Maryland bridge requires two natural abutment teeth, one on either side of the gap. Instead of dental crowns, though, it relies on a metal or porcelain framework bonded to the backs of the abutment teeth
4. Implant-supported dental bridge
Instead of using crowns or frameworks, implant-supported bridges use dental implants surgically inserted into the jawbone; these implants are what hold the bridge in position. In the case of multiple missing teeth, if it isn’t possible or desirable to use one implant for each missing tooth, the bridge may use a pontic suspended between two implant-supported crowns.
If you’re missing teeth and are wondering about your options to restore your smile and your oral health, contact CaliDental to learn more. Book an appointment online at one of our five conveinent California locations.