Missing or broken teeth affect how you bite and chew. Also, depending on their position, they have a negative impact on your smile. That is why it is important to restore or replace them using cosmetic dental treatments such as crowns and bridgework. However, the longevity of these treatments is dependent on how you care for them. Read on to find out more.
What are dental crowns and bridges?
Crowns and bridges are dental prosthetic devices. They are different from dentures because you cannot remove them – they are cemented onto implants or existing teeth. Since you cannot take them out daily for cleaning, like dentures, they require you maintain high oral hygiene.
How do crowns and bridges work?
A dental crown covers a damaged tooth. It not only strengthens a damaged tooth but also improves its shape and appearance as well as its overall appearance. Most crowns are made of porcelain and ceramic so that they can match the appearance of teeth.
However, some are made from acrylic, gold, and other metal alloys. You may prefer gold or metal alloys since they are stronger than porcelain and ceramic. Or, you may have your dentist in Sunrise install a porcelain crown bonded to a metallic shell. Such a crown will be strong and attractive.
Dental practitioners use crowns to:
• Restore broken or fractured teeth.
• Conceal discolored and poorly shaped teeth.
• Cover teeth after root canal treatment.
• Strengthen weak teeth to protect them from fracturing.
Bridges are used when you are missing a tooth or more. Replacing missing teeth is important as the gaps may cause the remaining teeth to shift or rotate. The result is an inconvenient bite. Also, the gaps left by missing teeth can cause gum disease and TMJ (temporomandibular joint) issues.
Bridges are created using crowns. They span the gap left by a tooth using at least three crowns. Two crowns are placed on the healthy teeth on both sides of the gap. In dentistry, the healthy teeth are called abutment teeth. They support the third crown which is placed in the gap. The third crown is referred to as a pontic.
Caring for crowns and bridges
Like natural teeth, crowns and bridges require care so that they can remain healthy and functional for a long time.
After-care guidelines for crowns and bridges
Taking care of crowns and bridges should start as soon as you leave the dentist’s office. Their installation requires the use of anesthesia. Therefore, make sure you do not accidentally bite the sides of your cheeks and your tongue. Also, until the anesthesia wears off, avoid chewy foods.
Note that, a temporary crown or bridge is used before a permanent one is placed. The temporary crowns and bridges require extra care as they can shift and dislodge easily. In case the temporary crown feels uncomfortable, see your dentist immediately. Most importantly, do not attempt to glue back a temporary crown or bridge if it comes off.
On the temporary crown, avoid chewing hard and sticky foods such as candy, gum and hard crusty bread. You can brush your teeth as usual. However, avoid flossing.
Long-term care guidelines for crowns and bridges
After the placement of the permanent crown, watch out for the following conditions to keep the crown in good health:
Your dentist will use dental cement to fix the crown or bridge permanently. The cement might cause irritation, which then leads to sensitivity to cold. Use sensitivity toothpaste to combat the irritation. After a few days, the irritation should not be a problem.
There is a common misconception that crowned teeth and bridges no longer need maintenance. Note that, a crown does not replace the whole tooth. The area under the gumline is still vulnerable to decay. Therefore, you still have to brush and floss. If you have a history of a high rate of tooth decay or periodontal disease, you should use high fluoride content toothpaste or fluoride rinse.
Crowns and bridges are made from strong materials, which do not discolor. However, just like a normal tooth, these materials could still fracture. That is why dentists recommend that you don’t do anything with a crown or bridge that you would not do with your natural teeth. For instance, do not chew ice. The extremely cold temperature makes porcelain and ceramic more vulnerable to fractures.
The area under the pontic – the third crown placed in the gap left by the missing tooth – requires additional cleaning. The area can be hard to reach with normal brushing and flossing. That is why dentists recommend a bridge threader, which is a type of thread you can use to floss the area under the pontic.
If your bite seems off or unusual after a few days of the installation of the crown, go back to your dentist for an adjustment.
How long do dental crowns and bridges last?
Ideally, crowns and bridges are supposed to be permanent. Unfortunately, sometimes they do fall off due to trauma or injury, and lack of proper care. You should be especially careful with the teeth supporting the crowns. If such teeth get damaged or decay, the crowns will fail.
To ensure your crown or bridge lasts a long time, visit a dentist for regular checkups. The dentist will assess the crown for signs of damage, thereby preventing potential problems. Are you looking for a dentist in Sunrise? Eric Mehler, DDS provides exceptional patient care and is one of the leading dental practices in the area. Contact them today.