Crowning moment: Dental crowns and bridges

Incisive Bite

Dr Sharon Robinson

Saturday, September 19, 2015

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Both crowns and most bridges are fixed prosthetic devices. Unlike removable devices, such as dentures, which you can take out and clean daily, crowns and bridges are cemented onto existing teeth or implants, and can only be removed by a dentist.


When too much tooth structure has been lost due to tooth decay or fracture, the best treatment choice to restore the tooth to normal function and cosmetic appearance is often the fabrication of a crown (cap). Crowns are usually made of porcelain fused to metal or ceramic, depending on the situation and judgement of the dentist.

The restoration of the damaged tooth becomes more of an aesthetic concern if it is located near the front of one's mouth. How we perceive our smile and appearance affects our self-esteem, our moods, and how we function in social and business relationships. So, when this situation occurs, there is a sense of urgency.

Your dentist may recommend a crown to:

* Replace a large filling when there isn't enough tooth remaining

* Protect a weak tooth from fracturing

* Restore a fractured tooth

* Attach a bridge

* Cover a dental implant

* Cover a discoloured or poorly shaped tooth

* Cover a tooth that has had root canal treatment


A bridge may be recommended if you're missing one or more teeth. Gaps left by missing teeth eventually cause the remaining teeth to rotate or shift into the empty spaces, resulting in a bad bite. The imbalance caused by missing teeth can also lead to gum disease and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.

Bridges are commonly used to replace one or more missing teeth. Bridges are cemented to the natural teeth or implants surrounding the empty space. These teeth, called abutments, serve as anchors for the bridge. A replacement tooth, called a pontic, is attached to the crowns that cover the abutments. As with crowns, you have a choice of materials for bridges. Your dentist can help you decide which to use based on the location of the missing tooth (or teeth), its function, aesthetic considerations, and cost. Porcelain or ceramic bridges can be matched to the colour of your natural teeth.


The tooth is prepared to allow enough room for the crown or bridge to fit over the tooth or teeth without extending too far and interfering with the person's bite. This procedure usually takes two visits, depending on the situation. A provisional (temporary) acrylic crown or bridge is made and temporarily cemented over the tooth or teeth. In the second visit, the crown is "tried in" to see how accurately it fits and to check that the ceramic colour chosen matches the surrounding teeth. If both the patient and dentist are satisfied, the crown is permanently cemented or bonded to the tooth.


While crowns and bridges can last a lifetime, they do sometimes break, come loose, or fall out. The most important step you can take to ensure the longevity of your crown or bridge is to practice good oral hygiene. A bridge can lose its support if the teeth ands/or bone holding it in place are damaged by dental disease. Keep your gums and teeth healthy by brushing with a fluoride toothpaste and flossing twice daily. Be sure to see your dentist and hygienist regularly for check-ups and professional cleanings. Avoid chewing hard foods (including bones), ice, or other hard objects.

Dr Sharon Robinson DDS has offices at the Dental Place Cosmetix Spa located at Shop #5, Winchester Business Centre, 15 Hope Road, Kingston 10. Dr Robinson is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Technology, Jamaica School of Oral Health Sciences. Dr Robinson may be contacted at 630-4710 or visit the website

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