Dental crowns, also known as 'caps', are simply custom-made tooth moldings made in a dental laboratory and used to cover over your existing weak or damaged teeth. They are not only made to protect weak or damaged teeth but may also be used to transform and significantly improve their cosmetic appearance, form and function.
A dental bridge, as the name suggests is used to replace a missing tooth or teeth. It consists of two or more crowns, joined together to close the gap between teeth, with the aid of one or more supporting healthy teeth. Bridges may also help to restore an aesthetic smile and help you to chew and speak properly. They maintain the original shape of your jaw and face and help to retain the alignment, to prevent other teeth from drifting out of place. They also serve to replace teeth without the use of removable dentures.
Crowns and bridges can be made from a number of different materials, including non-precious to semi precious metals and precious metals like white or yellow gold. Alternatively, porcelain can also be fused to such metals and give the crown a tooth-colored appearance. With advances in material science, crowns today can also be made solely from porcelain or Zircon. Depending on a patient's particular needs, consultation with the dentist will best determine which crown material is best suited for your needs. Your dentist's selection will be taking into consideration aesthetics, function and strength requirements.
Crowns and bridges are normally completed over two appointments. At your first visit, the dentist may take an X-ray to check for any underlying infection, recurrent infection or decay. If there is none detected, then a series of steps to reshape and prepare your tooth or teeth for the crown or bridge will be carried out. Dental impressions will then be taken of the final preparation, followed by cementation of a temporary crown or bridge to help protect your tooth or teeth, whilst your final prosthesis is being fabricated. This fabrication of your new crown or bridge is usually carried out at a pre-appointed dental lab and hence, would usually take about a week to be manufactured. Your new prosthesis should fit precisely over your tooth and afford protection for many years to come. However, good oral hygiene and regular check-ups are still fundamentally important in helping maintain your new dental investment.