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Dental crowns and bridges offer durable and effective ways to restore heavily damaged or missing teeth. A dental crown is a custom-designed “covering” made to look and function like a natural tooth, while a bridge serves to provide a natural-looking replacement for one or more missing teeth in a specific area of the mouth. Here at Delmarva Dental Services, our dentists combine their extensive experience performing these restorative procedures with the use of advanced materials and meticulous attention to detail to produce results that can successfully enhance both form and function of the teeth.

 

What Is a Dental Crown?

Dental crowns are designed to protect a tooth from breaking by completely covering the tooth in all areas, including the top, back, front, and two sides. They are recommended by our Salisbury dentists if a tooth breaks, is in danger of breaking, has extensive decay, or has had a root canal. Crowns can be made from metal (precious, semiprecious, non-precious), porcelain fused-to-metal, porcelain alumina, porcelain zirconia, dilithium silicate porcelain, plastic, or all-feldspathic porcelain. A crown is made by removing tooth structure to compensate for the thickness of the crown. The thicker the crown, the more removal of natural tooth material will be necessary. In this way the crown will be about the same size as the original tooth. Dental crowns are precisely designed, manufactured, and color-tinted to provide results that look and feel as natural as possible. 

What Are the Benefits of Dental Crowns?

Crowns have not only been standard treatments for common dental concerns for decades, they also remain one of the most effective. Dental crowns offer numerous benefits for patients, including: 

Dental crowns can ultimately save a seriously compromised tooth from extraction. Additionally, crowns are frequently placed after root canal therapy, and they serve as the final step of dental implant procedures. During your appointment, one of our dentists can evaluate the condition of your teeth and determine whether a custom dental crown is the best treatment option for your needs 

Dental Crown Types 

Dental crowns can be designed and manufactured using a variety of materials. The best type of dental crown for you will be recommended by our dentist once they have talked with you about the condition of the affected tooth. Some of the available types of dental crowns include:
 

Porcelain Crowns 

Porcelain crowns are made of different types of porcelain materials. The most popular is porcelain fused-to-metal crowns. They are tooth-colored with a metal framework under the porcelain for strength. They have been the predominant porcelain crown for over 50 years in the U.S. Newer metal-free frameworks have been developed as well, such as feldspathic, alumina, zirconium, and dilithium silicate. The most natural-looking crowns are E-max (dilithium sulfate). They are also very strong. Feldspathic and alumina porcelain crowns can be weaker and sometimes break. Zirconium porcelain crowns and porcelain fused-to-metal are stronger and are less likely to break. With the many benefits of porcelain crowns, it should also be noted that they can create wear on the opposing teeth and should be highly polished. 

Cast-Metal Crowns

Cast-metal crowns have been used in dentistry for more than 100 years. They do not break and are not abrasive to the opposing teeth. However, they are not esthetic, and therefore, are used in non-visible posterior areas. Delmarva Dental Services only uses precious metal for our all-metal crowns since we believe it is the best. 

All-Plastic Crowns

All-plastic crowns are not used much in dentistry because they tend to lose their shine and they wear significantly over time. Ultimately, all-plastic crowns simply do not offer many advantages over porcelain. 

Our dentist will recommend the best type of crown for your needs once your teeth have been examined. We utilize state-of-the-art materials and custom-designed crowns to produce exceptional, natural-looking results.
 

How Long Will the Results of Dental Crowns Last?

In many cases, dental crowns can last for several years, even decades with the proper care. With this in mind, it is important to remember that a dental crown may need to be replaced or additional treatment may need to be performed at some point in the future if it becomes compromised or if the natural tooth becomes affected by decay or damage. Fortunately, since dental crowns are precisely designed to be extremely durable protectors of the natural tooth, the potential that they last long into the future can be maximized with good at-home oral hygiene routines and regular visits to the dentist. For patients who clench or grind their teeth while sleeping, it may be worth considering an oral nightguard to prevent wear on the crown over time. 

What Is a Dental Bridge?

A “fixed” dental bridge is a replacement for missing teeth. It consists of an attachment of one or more artificial teeth affixed to the teeth next to the space. Therefore, it requires at least one natural tooth on each side of the space to serve as strong support for the artificial teeth that are “bridging the gap.” 

A dental bridge is characterized in several ways: the number of teeth involved, the design, and the materials used. The number of teeth involved is the sum of the number of artificial teeth and the number of tooth attachments. For example, a three-unit bridge would consist of one artificial tooth and two tooth attachments. The more teeth involved, the more costly the bridge. The artificial tooth is the same regardless of the bridge design, but the attachment to the tooth varies in three ways. In a full-coverage bridge, the attachment covers the adjacent teeth entirely like a crown or a cap. In an inlay bridge, the attachments fit in the adjacent teeth like fillings. With a bonded or Maryland bridge, the attachments are exterior to the adjacent teeth. 

Dental Bridge Options

The following materials are typically used in bridges: all-metal, all-porcelain, porcelain fused-to-metal, plastic, and zirconium. At Delmarva Dental Services, we have experience in all of these types of bridges. Fixed bridges generally have a 70 percent success rate over 15 years. 

Here are some of the more commonly produced options for dental bridges: 

All-Porcelain (Zirconium) Bridge

This type of bridge is the newest type of bridge. It contains no metal and is stronger than a porcelain fused-to-metal bridge. It is often best for the lighter shades of teeth or when lighter porcelain veneers are also being placed. Additionally, an all-porcelain bridge requires the delicate removal of some of the tooth structure in the adjacent teeth, but not as much as a porcelain fused-to-metal bridge.

Porcelain Fused-to-Metal Bridge 

This type of bridge has been one of the most popular for the last several decades. It is tooth-colored and the metal is hidden. The metal reinforces the porcelain, making it stronger. The success rate of bridges is about 70 percent after 15 years. The lesser number of units (shorter bridge), the greater the success rate. Different quality metals can be used with the porcelain: precious, semiprecious, and non-precious. Precious bonds the best with porcelain. Delmarva Dental Services has been using precious metal in our porcelain fused-to-metal bridges since 1981. The advantages of this type of bridge are its low fracture rate, high retention rate, low wear rate, years of proven success, and relative esthetics. Most dental laboratories are well-versed in its fabrication. The disadvantages are the wear of the natural teeth that oppose the bridge. It also requires the reduction of the adjacent teeth by 2 millimeters.

Bonded Bridge

This is a fixed bridge with an artificial tooth and is held to the adjacent teeth with exterior metal, plastic, or porcelain retainers (like wings) that wrap around the teeth. The retainers are usually not visible. The artificial tooth can be porcelain, plastic, metal, or porcelain fused-to-metal. The appliance is cemented via the retainers to the teeth. It is a conservative bridge in that very little of the adjacent tooth structure is removed during the procedure. Since the retainers do not fully cover the adjacent teeth, it is not as retentive as a full-coverage bridge and may come loose. 

If you have a missing tooth, or a group of missing teeth in the same area, a dental bridge may be the appropriate replacement option for your needs. Our practice also offers other advanced treatments that may be ideal alternatives, such as dental implants. Options such as implant-supported dentures or traditional dentures may also be explored in cases where there are multiple missing teeth on one or both dental arches. Once our dentist has evaluated your teeth and talked with you about your needs and goals, they can recommend the best option and create a customized treatment plan. 

If you would like additional information on dental crowns and bridges, or if you are ready to schedule an appointment here at Delmarva Dental Services, please contact us today. 

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