When teeth are missing, a series of changes that can impact your overall dental health and jaw function may be initiated. The adjacent teeth may start to drift or tilt into the space, and teeth in the opposing jaw may start to shift toward the area of the missing tooth. It is, therefore, essential to replace the single tooth or multiple teeth that have been lost. One of the best options to prevent the consequences of shifting teeth and to restore full function to a small edentulous section in the mouth is a dental bridge.
A dental bridge replaces the missing teeth with artificial teeth called “pontics,” and is supported on the ends by prepared natural teeth. Once fabricated and fitted, a dental bridge will be permanently “fixed” or cemented into place. Like crowns, bridges can be made of either porcelain baked on to a metal substrate or many of the new ceramic materials that have been developed.
The terms dental crowns and caps are synonymous. If dental decay, cracked fillings, root canals, clenching or grinding the teeth have caused extensive damage to the underlying tooth structure a dental filling may not be a sufficient restoration. The only way to completely restore the cosmetic appearance and function of this tooth is often full coverage with a dental crown. The good news is that a completed dental crown looks and feels like a natural tooth.
In addition to restoring a single natural tooth, crowns can be used in other situations, including supporting ends of dental bridge, covering dental implants, or covering a cracked tooth to prevent further breakdown. A crown may also be indicated when a discolored or stained tooth needs to be restored to its natural appearance. Crowns can be made of either porcelain baked onto a metal substrate, all-porcelain, or many of the new ceramic materials that have been developed.