Crowns are caps which cover teeth that are heavily restored (generally more than 50% filling) or have had a root canal. Research has found that such teeth are more prone to fracture. Crowns are placed to cover the tooth right down to the gums, to protect it from breakdown.
Crowns are made from various types of materials. Depending on which tooth needs a crown, your dentist will suggest a material, or combination of materials, that is right for you.
Metal crowns are made of gold. They generally last a long time and won’t chip or break. They tend not to wear down your opposing natural teeth. The use of full metal crowns is typically reserved for teeth that are located at the back of the mouth.
Porcelain crowns look the most natural. They are more brittle than metal or composite and may chip more easily. Newer porcelain materials allow placement of crowns at the back of the mouth in certain cases.
Porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns look natural and are stronger than porcelain crowns. They won’t chip as easily as porcelain or ceramic crowns. However, depending on their design, the metal may show if your gums are thin or shrink.
What else should I know?
Crowns are strong and generally last for about 10 years or longer if you take good care of them. Brush and floss your crown, just like you clean your natural teeth. The most common reason crowns need replacement is recurrent decay resulting from inadequate oral hygiene.
Teeth that are out of line are harder to clean and are more likely to get periodontal disease (gum disease) and cavities. If one or more of your teeth are missing, your dentist may suggest replacing your missing teeth with a bridge or a denture. If you need to have a tooth (or teeth) replaced, your dentist may do it, or he or she may refer you to a prosthodontist. A prosthodontist is a dentist who has completed a university post-graduate specialty program in prosthodontics. Prosthodontics is a specialty of dentistry that deals with restoring and replacing natural teeth and tissues with artificial substitutes
Bridges are essentially 2 or more “anchor crowns” fused to “false teeth” which act as a single unit to replace one or more missing teeth in a region of your mouth.
Bridges, like crowns, are cemented in place permanently. This is in contrast to partial dentures, which are removable and stay in place with hooks on existing teeth rather than cement. Crowns and bridges can be made of metal, porcelain, or a combination of these materials.
The best teeth are your own natural teeth. But sometimes, a tooth is badly damaged or lost. If a tooth is lost, it is important to replace it with an artificial tooth as soon as possible. This will prevent the teeth that are left from drifting out of line and possibly causing jaw problems.
Veneers are an esthetic treatment used on front teeth. They are essentially “half crowns” – as such they are very conservative and little tooth structure is removed. They are made of porcelain and cover the front portion of the tooth to correct discoloration, misalignment, wear, chipping or gaps between teeth.