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Dental Bridge Crown

A dental bridge helps maintain face shape and relieve stress in the bite when teeth are missing.

Dental Bridge Crown

A dental bridge crown is a crown placed on teeth to provide a foundation for a bridge. To better understand dental bridge crowns, it helps to understand the two dental procedures are involved.

According to the American Dental Association, dental bridges are artificial replacements for a missing tooth or missing teeth. They are bonded onto surrounding teeth, the jaw, or under the gum tissue for support, and are made of porcelain, gold, alloys or a combination of these materials. Bridges help ensure that the face's shape is maintained, and they help to relieve stress in the bite because missing teeth are replaced. Removable bridges can be removed from the mouth and cleaned. Fixed bridges can only be removed by a dentist.

Dental crowns are used to cover a large filling in cases where there is not enough natural tooth left due to decay, help prevent a weak tooth from breaking or restore a tooth that has been broken. They can also cover teeth that are oddly shaped or badly discolored. In some cases, crowns are used to attach a bridge.

Types of Bridges

According to the Consumer Guide to Dentistry, even a single missing tooth can have an impact not only on one's appearance and smile, but also one's dental health. A missing tooth can lead to a bite modification, known as occlusion; temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ); shifting of the teeth; a greater risk of periodontal disease and tooth decay; and problems with speech.

There are three types of fixed dental bridges: conventional fixed bridges, cantilever bridges and resin-bonded bridges.

A conventional bridge requires the teeth surrounding the missing tooth or teeth to be shaped and crowned. The crowns placed on the newly shaped teeth are then connected to the artificial tooth. This bridge is mostly used to replace teeth subject to heavy chewing stress.

A cantilever bridge is used in cases where there are teeth on only one side of an empty space. This type of bridge is primarily recommended for the front teeth since they experience less physical stress. The bridge is fixed to two crowns -- one on each side of the empty space.

Resin-bonded bridges are somewhat less complicated. Unlike convential and cantilever bridges, the teeth adjacent to the empty space are not shaped or covered. Instead, the artificial tooth is attached to a metal plate with wings, which is then mounted to the back of the adjacent teeth. Resin-bonded bridges can be used to replace front teeth if the adjacent teeth and gums are healthy.

How is a Bridge Built

Depending on the severity of the tooth loss or decay, dental bridges require varying amounts of work to be performed by the dentist. The process of implanting a bridge usually requires two dental visits.

During the first visit, the dentist examines the health of a patient's teeth and gums to determine if a dental bridge is an appropriate procedure. To begin the procedure, a local anesthetic is used to numb the affected area of the mouth. The dentist can then prepare the teeth that will support the bridge. This preparation includes building up any teeth that have broken down and preparing the crowns.

Next, a soft, putty material is used to make an impression, or model, of the teeth. A lab technician uses the impression to create the bridge. The bridge must be absolutely precise in order to properly fit the prepared teeth. A poorly prepared bridge can lead to tooth decay and other oral health problems.

While the permanent bridge is being constructed, a temporary bridge is fitted in order to protect the teeth and gums from any damage.

At the second visit, the completed permanent bridge is fitted and cemented into place.

Pain associated with the procedure is usually very minor due to use of an anesthetic. However, the teeth may be sensitive to very hot or very cold temperatures for a few weeks after the treatment is completed. There is also risk of infection from the build-up of bacteria from food acids on the gums and teeth. It is, therefore, extremely important to follow correct oral hygiene.

Cost and Longevity

According to the Consumer Guide to Dentistry, dental bridges typically cost between $1,000 and $3,000 per tooth. Factors that affect cost include: the need for additional procedures to build up existing teeth, such as crowns, root canals and fillings; the type of material used for the bridge; where a dentist is located; the techniques used by the lab technician and dentist; and the coverage provided by your dental insurance.

Dental bridges typically last 8-10 years, but can last up to 20 years, provided proper dental hygiene is used. Frequent brushing and flossing is recommended in addition to avoiding very hard or very sticky foods. Regular dental checkups should be scheduled every six months.

A Second Opinion

A patient may want to seek a second opinion on the need for a new or replacement bridge or crown. According to The Dental Comfort Zone, it is important to always ask why the recommended treatment is necessary. If the answer is unsatisfactory, the patient should ask for a copy of the X-rays and take them to a dental school or another dentist for another evaluation. A dentist's resistance or unwillingness to cooperate may indicate a problem, which would be all the more reason to insist on a second opinion.

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