Crowns, bridges, and dental implants are three of the most popular treatments for restoring distressed teeth. Each offers a mix of benefits and considerations. Crowns are a good option when the base of the tooth remains viable. Bridges offer aesthetic advantages, and implants are the current state-of-the-art in dental medicine.
What are Dental Crowns?
Crowns, which were once known as “caps,” are often used when the base of the tooth is savable. Here’s how they work, explained in three steps:
- Your teeth are made up of three layers: the root, which is the portion beneath the gum line, the neck, which is above the gum line but hidden from view, and the crown, the part that’s actually visible. The crown is the area that is most vulnerable to decay and injury.
- Your dentist may choose to remove your natural crown, file and shape the area underneath it, and prepare a synthetic crown crafted from porcelain, metal, or some combination of the two.
- He or she will cement the restoration in place using a special medical-grade bonding agent. The result is regained functionality and improved appearance.
A dental crown is an effective treatment option for many people. But crowns do require that the neck and the root of the tooth be in reasonable good condition. When this is no longer the case, the patient may be better served by a bridge instead.
What is a Bridge?
In the dental world, a bridge is a restoration that fits across a gap caused by one or more missing teeth. The bridge is attached to healthy teeth on either side of the space. This approach offers the look of a fully restored tooth, along with significant practical benefits to the patient.
Placing a bridge does require that the patient have enough healthy teeth to make the restoration possible. Also, because a bridge covers a gap in the tooth line, it can sometimes bend or crack under severe or extended use.
What are Dental Implants?
Part of what makes your natural teeth so strong is the fact that they’re anchored to the bones of the jaw itself. But cavities, gum disease, and mouth trauma can overwhelm nature’s defenses, leading to tooth loss.
Dental implants were created to address this problem. At the heart of a dental implant is a titanium post inserted into the patient’s jaw. Over time, the bones around the post fuse with the restoration, through a natural process called osseointegration. This post is what supports the artificial tooth itself.
Implants are almost like having your natural teeth again. They require no messy adhesives or special care. Just brush and floss as normal, see your dentist for regular checkups, and eat a sensible diet.
Implant-supported dentures are a related approach. They use a specially designed denture plate secured to a series of titanium implants. The patient can remove the restoration for cleaning or for other purposes. When it’s in place, the restoration is virtually indistinguishable from natural teeth.
In this post, we’ve only scratched the surface of a rich and fascinating subject. Make an appointment with your dentist today to find out about crowns, bridges, implants and other forms of tooth restoration. There’s no better way to meet the future with a smile on your face.
About the Author
Dr. L. King Scott has been practicing dentistry for more than 30 years. Recently, Dr. Scott was honored with the Academy of General Dentistry’s Lifetime Service Award, in recognition of his contributions to the field of dental care. You can reach his office online or by calling (318) 325-4600.