Jo Ann Thiel, D.D.S.

The Facts About Crowns & Bridges

What is a Crown?
A crown-sometimes called a “cap” - is a tooth-like covering placed over a carefully prepared existing tooth. Used to strengthen, restore or improve the appearance of your natural tooth, a crown is placed on an individual tooth much like a thimble over your finger. In addition to being used to strengthen a tooth to accommodate the attachment of a fixed bridge, crowns serve many functions. One of the most common is to support the tooth when there is no longer sufficient tooth structure left to place a filling. Crowns may also be used to protect the structure of a tooth that is fractured or broken.

What Is a Bridge and Why Are Crowns Involved?

crowns / bridges

A bridge is a custom device anchored to neighboring teeth that replaces one or more missing teeth. When a lost tooth is replaced with bridgework, the teeth on either side of the missing one must be prepared as crowns to serve as abutments to hold the prosthetic (replacement) teeth in place. Crowns and bridges are most often made from superior materials such as semiprecious or precious metals, porcelain or a combination of metal fused to porcelain. Both appearance and function are considered when selecting the material most suitable for you.


Why Is Crown and Bridge Treatment Necessary?
Losing a permanent tooth - whether it be due to dental decay, periodontal (gum) disease, injury or accident - can cause many serious problems for your neighboring teeth. Because the support and chewing forces are altered, the remaining teeth may begin to shift. The opposing tooth above or below the lost tooth can begin to move up or down and out of the socket, which can accelerate periodontal disease and further break down the bone structure. If the missing tooth is not replace, more teeth may eventually be lost due to the improper forces exerted during chewing.

What Are the Benefits of Crown and Bridge Treatment?
Crown and bridge treatment reverses the negative impact of missing teeth in a variety of ways:

  • restores and maintains the natural bite
  • prevents unnatural stress on the other teeth
  • keeps opposing teeth in their proper place
  • prevents shifting and tilting of adjacent teeth
  • discourages further dental decay and periodontal disease
  • enhances your smile, speech and chewing function

How Is the Treatment Performed?
Once we determine that crown and bridge treatment is indicated, a series of appointments will be scheduled for you. It is important for you to keep all of these appointments to prevent any delays in treatment. At the first appointment, we complete a thorough oral examination, including an evaluation of your dental history. Any necessary x-rays are completed at this time.

During the restorative procedure, we first anesthetize the area to be treated. Next, we carefully shape and contour the tooth or teeth to be crowned to allow the crown or bridge sufficient space for proper fit and appearance. Finally, we make an impression of the area and fit the teeth involved with a temporary crown or bridge to protect them until your next appointment.

At the following appointment, we evaluate the final crown or bridge for proper fit before placing it permanently, making final adjustments if necessary. Other factors we carefully consider at this time include:

  • aesthetics - color match and appearance
  • function - chewing and biting accuracy
  • tissue compatibility - the contour of the bridge must conform to the surrounding tissue in a natural, healthy position

What is the Best Way to Care for a Crown and Bridge?
Care for it as you would any of your other teeth you wish to preserve! Proper oral hygiene, including flossing at least once a day brushing twice daily, is just as important as ever to help you keep your teeth and gums healthy, along with regular dental hygiene appointments.

To make the most of your investment, it’s important that you follow our recommendations - including making adjustments to your diet. We recommend avoiding sticky foods like caramels, gum and taffy, and crunchy foods like hard candy. And please, don’t chew ice cubes!