Restorative dentistry is just one of the specialized branches of cosmetic dentistry that focuses on repairing and/or replacing damaged or decayed teeth. Two very common ways that a cosmetic dentist restores damaged teeth are by making and placing tooth crowns and dental bridges. The improvements crowns and bridges can provide to damaged teeth are amazing.
What is a crown?
If your tooth is damaged to a degree where it cannot hold a filling, a crown may be necessary. A crown is a tooth-shaped cover placed over a tooth that is damaged or decayed. Crowns, also called caps, are made to look just like your teeth. Patients needing crowns generally have a tooth that is damaged quite extensively, and filling material cannot replace the missing tooth structure. Crowns can hold together parts of a broken tooth and can also be used to hold a bridge in place. Misshapen and badly discolored teeth can also be covered by crowns.
How are crowns made?
Some crowns are prefabricated and are made of plastic or stainless steel; prefabricated crowns can be used as a temporary restoration until a permanent crown is manufactured. Crowns can be all metal, porcelain fused to metal (PFM), or all ceramic. The metals used in making crowns are gold alloy, other alloys such as palladium or a base-metal alloy such as nickel or chromium. The all metal and PFM crowns are the strongest and are typically used for back teeth. PFM and all-ceramic crowns look just like real teeth. Crowns can last anywhere from approximately 7 to 40 years depending on how well they’re taken care of.
How are crowns placed?
Since the teeth that need crowns are often decayed and damaged, endodontic (root canal) treatment is sometimes necessary before the crown is placed. However, not everyone who needs a crown will also need a root canal. To put a crown in place, your dentist must file down the tooth to make room for it. After filing down the tooth, your cosmetic dentist will use a piece of thread or cord to push the gum down around the tooth and then make an impression of the tooth. The impression material is removed after several minutes. The impressions are sent o the lab and the tooth crown is made.
While your permanent crown is being made, you will receive a temporary usually made of plastic and made right in the office on the day of your visit. At your next visit, the temporary crown will be removed and the permanent crown will be tested to check size and fit. Once the crown is ready, it is cemented to your tooth.
Placing a crown is a fairly simple procedure that typically does not cause any post-procedure discomfort or sensitivity. If you do notice pain or sensitivity when you bite down, you should call your dentist as this usually means the crown is too high on the tooth and can be easily fixed.
If your teeth crown becomes loose or chipped, you should call your dentist. If the crown comes completely out of your mouth, clean the crown and the tooth and call your cosmetic dentist to get an appointment the next day to have this repaired.
What is a dental bridge?
Dental bridges are one of the options to repair or replace missing teeth. A dental bridge is a false tooth that is fused between two porcelain crowns to fill the area left by the missing tooth. A bridge is essentially a group of interconnecting crowns used to stabilize your bite when you are missing one or more teeth. The bridge prevents further damage to your gums and teeth and gives you a new and improved smile.
One type of bridge is the fixed bridge. Fixed bridges are attached onto your teeth on either side of the false tooth, and fixed bridges cannot be taken out of your mouth. Another type of bridge is called a cantilever bridge; these bridges are used when there are teeth on only one side of the open space.
Bridges are very beneficial tools as missing teeth can lead to serious problems; when teeth are missing, other teeth can begin to drift out of position. This movement of the teeth can lead to changes in your bite, tooth decay, gum disease and even severe migraine-like headaches.
In the last couple of decades Implants became a viable and in many respect better alternative to bridges.
Dental inlays and onlays
Dental inlays and onlays are restorations used to repair rear teeth that have mild to moderate tooth decay. Inlays and onlays are also used to restore teeth that are fractured or cracked if the damage to them is not severe enough to warrant a dental crown. Inlays and onlays are usually made from porcelain, composite resin and sometimes gold. Inlays and onlays are often used to replace metal fillings for those who desire a more natural-looking smile.
Inlays are used to treat teeth that have decay or damage on their top surfaces. Inlay placement is usually done over the space of two visits to your cosmetic dentist. During the first visit, an impression of your tooth will be taken, and a temporary inlay will be placed on the tooth. The impression will be sent to a dental lab where your inlay will be matched to your tooth’s specifications. When you return to the dentist, your temporary will be removed and the permanent one will be placed over your tooth.
Onlays are used to treat decay that extends to one or more of the cusps (top projections of the tooth). Onlays are placed in much the same manner as inlays with an impression being taken first and a temporary onlay being placed over the tooth. The impression is sent to a lab, where a dental technician creates the onlay according to the tooth’s dimensions. On the next visit to the dentist, the temporary is removed and the permanent restoration is placed on the tooth and bonded securely using high-strength dental resins.
Onlays, like inlays, can be created from tooth-colored material, which makes them virtually undetectable to the naked eye. Onlays conserve more tooth structure because their use requires minimal removal of a tooth’s surface. Onlays also help patients avoid the eventual need for more extensive treatment with crowns, bridges, or dental implants.
Since inlays and onlays are made from durable, tooth-colored porcelain typically, they offer much more enduring and natural-looking results than the metal fillings used in the past. Dentists can securely bond them to the tooth’s surface, which adds structural integrity and prevents bacteria from entering and forming cavities.
Additional advantages are:
- Inlays and onlays, unlike metal fillings, will not expand or contract in response to temperature changes caused by hot/cold foods.
- Inlays and onlays can replace metal fillings creating a healthier more natural-looking smile.
- Inlays and onlays are virtually invisible due to being made from tooth-colored material.
- Inlays and onlays help strengthen the teeth up to 75%.
If you would like to learn more about how bridges, crowns, inlays and onlays can repair damaged teeth and give you a winning smile, please e-mail or call Dr. Preis today to schedule an appointment.