The crown of a tooth is the part which is visible in the mouth. An artificial crown completely covers a damaged tooth above the gum line and protects it. Crowns can also improve the appearance of misshapen or discoloured teeth. Crowns are made of metal or porcelain, or porcelain with metal inside for strength. The colour and shape can be matched to your own teeth.
The dentist shapes the tooth so that there is room for the artificial crown to fit over the top. Preparation time will depend on how damaged the tooth is and whether it needs to be built up with a filling first.
The tooth might have to be root-filled first - this is sometimes called 'removing the nerve'. The crown is sometimes held in place by a peg in the root canal if a lot of the tooth is missing.
Your dentist will use a soft mouldable material to make an exact 'impressions' of the tooth that is to be crowned and the nearby teeth. A dental technician uses the impressions to make the crown the exact height and size needed.
A temporary crown made of plastic or metal is put over the tooth until the permanent crown is made. You can chew on a temporary crown but it won't be as strong as the finished one.
When the crown is ready, the temporary one is removed and the permanent one put it its place. The dentist will make small adjustments to make sure you can bite comfortably.
A bridge is one way replacing a missing tooth. It fixes a replacement tooth (or teeth) to the natural teeth on either side of the gap. Some bridges (like the one on the 3D model) have crowns at each end. Others are fixed to the surface of the teeth next to the gap.
Bridges are made of metal and porcelain or sometimes just porcelain. The teeth can be matched to the colour of your own teeth.
The teeth that will support the bridge are prepared to take the fixings and to make sure that the bridge is not too bulky.
An impression is taken of the teeth and any gaps, and the dental technician uses this to make the bridge. A plastic temporary bridge or temporary crown may be fitted in the meantime.
At your final visit, the dentist will check that the bridge fits, make any minor adjustments and then fix it permanently in place. Your dentist or hygienist will show you the best way of keeping your new bridge clean.
Over time, people's teeth tend to naturally deteriorate. When a tooth has deteriorated substantially, it often needs to be extracted. And when multiple teeth are extracted, dentures may be the most appropriate solution. Dentures can create a natural and healthy looking set of teeth. In addition, a properly fitting set of dentures can greatly enhance your smile and sense of self-esteem.
Complete and Partial Dentures
Many types of dentures exist, including complete and partial dentures. Complete dentures are used when few original teeth remain. The dentist begins by removing any remaining teeth so the dentures can be fitted. He or she then makes a mold of the gums and sends it to a dental lab where customized dentures are constructed. Patients are typically fitted with temporary dentures until the permanent set have returned from the laboratory. Partial dentures are prepared in much the same way as a complete set and are utilized when only a few teeth are missing.
If the roots of a patient's remaining teeth (the tissue and gums) are strong, the dentist may suggest over-dentures. Over-dentures fit on top of the remaining natural teeth in the mouth. With over-dentures, the remaining teeth are re sculpted and covered with metal caps to stop future decay. The advantage of over-dentures is that they do not have to be relined as frequently as a complete set of dentures because they cause less recession of the jawbone and gums. In addition, over-dentures create less occlusion (bite) problems than complete dentures.
Once Your Dentures Have Been Placed
At first, your dentures will feel uncomfortable because the gums and tissue are not accustomed to being in contact with man-made relining material. Once placed, dentures should be worn continually for the first few days to reduce the amount of swelling that may occur in the mouth. This swelling typically subsides in two to three days. Until patients adjust to their new set of teeth, the dentures may feel loose and awkward while chewing food. Eating soft food may be necessary for the first few days. Reading aloud helps to overcome any speech impediments that may occur from the new dentures. Typically, lower dentures take longer to get used to than upper dentures. The underlying jawbone may take several months to completely heal and become accustomed to the dentures. Once this occurs, the dentist removes the dentures and creates a permanent lining for your teeth (a denture lining is the soft material that cushions the contact between the denture and the gum tissues).
The Life of your Dentures
Although dentures typically last about five years, they can last up to 25 years with proper care and cleaning. Dentures should be cleaned daily with a normal or specially-made denture toothpaste. Once the swelling has reduced, it is advisable to leave one or both dentures out at night to allow the gum tissues to breathe. In order to prevent dentures from warping, they should be left in water overnight. Over time, the lining of the dentures may change, owing to the wear and tear of daily use. In the case of tissue / bone shrinkage, worn down teeth, or breakage, dentures may come loose and need to be remade.