Des Moines Crowns & Bridges

Crowns & Bridges Q & A

Crowns and bridges restore damaged teeth or replace teeth that have been lost due to decay, trauma or gum disease.  Crown and bridge treatment help you maintain optimum dental health.

What is a dental crown or “cap”?

A crown, sometimes called a “cap”, is a durable tooth-like covering placed over a carefully prepared existing tooth.  Crowns surround the entire visible portion of the tooth providing extra strength and stability to the tooth as well as hiding any cosmetic defects.  In addition to being used to strengthen a tooth to accommodate the attachment of a bridge, crowns serve many functions. 

One of the most common is to support the tooth when there is no longer sufficient tooth structure to place a long lasting filling.  Crowns may also be used to protect remaining tooth structure after the tooth has fractured or broken.  Your dentist may recommend placing a crown on chewing tooth that has had a root canal.

What is a dental bridge and why are crowns involved?

A dental bridge is a custom device anchored to neighboring teeth that replaces one or more missing teeth.  For example, when a tooth is lost, a bridge can be fabricated by crowning the teeth on either side of the space and these teeth will “bridge” the gap by having a replacement tooth between.  Partial dentures can also be used to replace missing teeth, but you may prefer a dental bridge because they are more secure, requires less maintenance, and will feel more like your natural teeth.

What are the benefits of crown and bridge treatment?

Crowns and bridges reverses the negative impact of missing teeth by:

  • Restoring and maintaining your natural bite.
  • Reducing the load that your other teeth takes on.
  • Keeping opposing teeth stay in their proper place.
  • Preventing shifting and tilting of nearby teeth.
  • Reducing the progression of decay and periodontal disease.
  • Enhancing your smile, speech, and chewing.

How is the treatment performed?

Once you and your dentists has agreed that a crown and bridge treatment is right for you, a series appointment is scheduled.  The first appointment, your dentist will get you numb and comfortable before starting.  Next, your dentist will carefully shape and contour your tooth to allow the crown or bridge sufficient space for proper fit and appearance.  Finally, your dentist will make an impression of the area and make you a temporary crown to wear until your next appointment. 

At the next appointment, your dentist may not numb you unless you want to.  The temporary crown is removed and the prepared tooth cleaned with a paste before evaluating the fit of your new crown.  Adjustments are made if necessary.  Other factors you and your dentist will consider at this time include:

  • Making sure you are satisfied with the color match and appearance.
  • Making sure your bite is accurate and not high.
  • Making sure the contour of the crown is compatible with your soft tissues.

Once you are happy with everything, your dentist will use a permanent dental cement to secure the crown or bridge.

How do I care for my crown and bridge?

Take care of your crown and bridge as you would any of your other teeth you wish to keep!  The crown and bridge will not develop a cavity, but remember that there is healthy, yet susceptible, tooth structure under your crown.  In fact, brushing in the morning and brushing and flossing at night right before hopping into bed is even more important now to keep your crowned tooth healthy.  Also, remember to keep regular dental checkups so that your hygienist and dentist are able to prevent smaller problems from becoming bigger problems.

How long do crowns and bridges last?

The materials that are used today to fabricate crowns and bridges are very durable and long-lasting.  Crowns and bridges can stay in great shape and can last for 10 or more years as long as you properly care for them with regular brushing and flossing and routine trips to your dentist.  Here is an interesting fact for you:  The number one reason why we have to redo a crown or bridge is because there is decay underneath the crown or bridge, so please brush and floss

A final word from Dr. Trung Phan:

Throughout your crown and bridge procedure, you may have questions that are not covered above.  We will make sure to answer all of your questions and make sure you are comfortable during your crown and bridge treatment.  We love getting questions from our patients!  Our goal is to help you preserve your natural smile for a lifetime, because your smile is your best asset!