Restore Your Smile
Dentistry is an art and a science, and dental crowns are a prime example. Dental crowns and bridges fit over a damaged, decayed, or unattractive tooth to restore your smile in our Laurel office.
What Are Crowns?
Unlike dental veneers, which only cover a tooth's front surface and need a natural tooth structure to support it, a crown covers a tooth above the gum line. If you have a tooth that is missing a significant amount of structure above the gum line, a crown can restore the appearance and function of your smile.
Crowns are crafted from high-tech porcelains (dental ceramics), virtually indistinguishable from natural teeth, and can improve the appearance of your original tooth. There are other materials besides porcelain that we can use to make dental crowns, depending on the most important qualities to reach your smile goals.
You can't beat cast gold for durability. However, this isn't always the most aesthetic choice, especially towards the front of the mouth.
Other possibilities include porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns (PFM), which have a metal interior for strength and a porcelain exterior for a more natural appearance, and all-porcelain crowns with zirconia, representing the strongest ceramic.
Dr. Thames would be happy to discuss the pros and cons of these various options with you.
Crowning or Capping a Tooth
Crowning or capping a tooth will usually take two to three visits. During your first visit, we'll prepare your tooth to receive its new crown. First, we'll numb the tooth and the surrounding area. Next, we'll use a drill to reshape the tooth to fit inside the new covering.
If very little tooth structure is left, we may use filling material to build the tooth up rather than filing it down to support the crown.
After we prepare your tooth, we'll take some impressions of your teeth, either digitally or with reliable, putty-like impression materials, and send them to the dental laboratory.
These models will serve as guides to highly skilled lab technicians, who will customize your new crown to enhance your smile and function well with your bite.
Before you leave the office, we'll attach a temporary crown to your tooth to protect it until the permanent crown is ready.
At the second visit, Dr. Thames will attach your permanent crown to your tooth with a resin that hardens when exposed to a special light source or a type of permanent cement.
Creating a Bridge
Crowns can also create a lifelike replacement for a missing tooth using bridgework that spans the space of the missing tooth and requires at least three crowns.
Two crowns will be placed over healthy teeth on either side of the missing tooth; these healthy teeth are referred to as abutment teeth. The two crowned abutment teeth become supports for a third crown placed between them; that third crown is referred to as a pontic.
If more than one tooth is missing, you'll need more crowns to bridge the gap between the abutment teeth.
The number of abutment teeth necessary to replace missing teeth depends on the number of missing teeth, the size, and length of the abutment tooth roots, the amount of bone support each abutment tooth has, and the placement of the missing tooth.
For example, four abutment teeth may be necessary if you have three missing teeth, creating a seven-tooth bridge. Engineering and designing the bridge require understanding how to replace teeth and the biology of the supporting gum and bone tissue.
Caring for Crowns & Bridges
Crowns and bridgework require the same care as natural teeth. Always brush and floss between your teeth daily to reduce the buildup of dental plaque.
When you have crowns, it's even more important to maintain your regular schedule of cleanings with Laurel Dental Group.
Avoid using your teeth as tools (to open packages, for example), and if you have a grinding habit, wearing a nightguard will protect your teeth and your investment.