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 at

tachment 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?

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 replaced, more teeth may eventually be lost due to theimproper 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 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

The bridge spans the space where one or more teeth have been lost in the dental arch.Together, the replacement tooth (or teeth) and crowns are fabricated and placed in the mouth as  one non- removable unit called a fixed bridge.

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 treatmcnt. 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

These procedures have been reliable and long-lasting ways of restoring people’s teeth for many years. Recent advances in technology have allowed crowns and bridges to be more natural and life-like while still retaining their traditional strength and durability.

What Is Dental Implant Treatment?

Think of dental implants as metal anchors, usually made of titanium, that are surgically placed into the jawbone to hold permanent replacement teeth or dentures. Through a process called “osteointegration,” the jawbone actually attaches itself to the implant over time, providing tremendous stability.Implant treatment is usually performed by a general dentist, oral surgeon, periodontist or a team of these doctors. To devise the best treatment plan for you, we first complete a medical and dental history and a thorough oral examination, including x-rays.

The procedure and follow-ups are often performed in the dental office using local anesthetic. Depending upon your individual situation, other types of anesthesia may be used to ensure your comfort. During surgery, each implant is placed within the jawbone to serve as an anchor for the post that will eventually support the replacement teeth. Generally from three to six months or more is then allowed for the bone tissue to grow around the implants and hold them securely in place.

Immediately after surgery we will give you specific post surgical instructions to assure the best possible healing. In addition, we may prescribe pain medication and in some cases, antibiotics to aid in the healing process and help alleviate any discomfort. At this time, you may be fitted with temporary dentures or natural-looking teeth to help you function as normally as possible. You also will need to limit your diet to soft foods and follow important oral hygiene instructions. Follow-up care is important during this time.

Once the jawbone has firmly healed around the implant, a small post is attached to each implant. The post protrudes through the gumline and serve as an anchor for the replacement teeth. This short procedure usually requires only local anesthesia. After your gums have healed, the replacement teeth or dentures are securely attached to the posts.

What Are the Benefits of Dental Implants?

Because dental implants are patterned after the structure of your natural teeth, they provide a highly stable support system for the replacement teeth or dentures. Other benefits include:

Improved biting pressure. Healthy teeth are able to absorb over 500 pounds of biting pressure per square inch. If you’ve worn dentures for a long time, that pressure may be diminished significantly, to one-tenth that of natural teeth. Dental implants can often restore the amount of pressure that can be withstood to nearly the same level of healthy natural teeth.
Comfort and fit. Because your replacement teeth are anchored securely to the implants in your jawbone, they can’t slip and slide like unsecured dentures can. When dentures aren’t secure enough, they often cause sores in the mouth and an annoying clicking sound. Dental implants eliminate these problems.
Longevity and reliability. With proper oral hygiene and care, scientifically tested and approved dental implant systems have been shown to last as long as 20 years or more with few complications.
Increased self-confidence. Because dental implants function remarkably like natural teeth, most people who get them experience a renewed sense of self-confidence once they realize they can again chew, talk, laugh and smile with confidence.

A fixed bridge abutment or “crown and bridge” is often used when a crown can anchor the prosthesis in combination with an implant.The permanent fixed denture is often an excellent alternative to removable dentures.

What Risks Are Involved?

Dental implant surgery has proved to be successful for hundreds of thousands of people over the years. Negative effects such as bleeding, infection, injury to the nerves or sinus cavity, or incomplete healing of the bone around the implant resulting in implant failure, are rare. During the healing process, however, discomfort, swelling and inflammation of the gums are normal responses to oral surgery and may be present in varying degrees. If you have questions about your individual situation or want to discuss what is considered normal in the healing process, we will be happy to address your concerns.

Through the use of implants I am able to replace a single tooth or an entire dentition. The implant itself is a slender titanium post which is surgically placed into the bone. The implant is allowed to heal a few months afterwhich it is ready to support the final restoration. Where a single tooth is being replaced the final restoration is a ceramic crown which is locked into the implant. The crown now functions and looks as if the patient never lost the original tooth.

We are excited to offer this advanced dental restoration alternative to you. It is an important part of our commitment to help you keep a healthy, great-looking smile for a lifetime.

Dental implants require a time commitment and dedicated oral hygiene routine for optimal maintenance. In addition, implants require a greater financial investment than that of a removable bridge or conventional denture. However, many people discover the end results-a healthy smile, comfort, greater chewing ability and the confidence that comes with it-make dental implants well worth the investment! Call to schedule a complimentary consultation today. (408) 244-3562.

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