Losing a tooth can be of social and psychological concern. Teeth are lost for a number of reasons including:* Dental decay* Periodontal (gum) disease* Trauma (injury or accident). When a permanent tooth is lost, the neighboring teeth are affected. The support and chewing forces become altered and the remaining teeth will begin to shift. The teeth on either side of the lost tooth will tip into the space. The tooth above or below the one that was lost will begin to move up and out of its socket. These movements in turn accelerate periodontal (gum) disease and cause further breakdown and deterioration in the dental arch. If the missing tooth is not replaced, more teeth may eventually be lost due to the improper forces exerted on the remaining teeth during chewing.
What is Crown and Bridge Treatment?
A Crown is placed on an individual tooth, (somewhat like a thimble over your finger) where there is no longer sufficient tooth structure left to place a filling.
A Bridge spans a space where one or more teeth have been lost in the dental arch. The teeth on either end of the span are crowned, and are referred to as abutments or retainers. The teeth being replaced by the bridge are referred to as pontics. A fixed bridge can be used to replace one or several teeth, however, the longer the span of the bridge, the weaker it becomes, and is more susceptible to fracture. Crowns and bridges are most often made from superior materials such as precious metals (gold), semi-precious metals, porcelain or a combination of metal fused to porcelain. Both esthetics (appearance) and function are considered when selecting the material most suitable for you.
Home Care for Your Crown and Bridge
Bacteria is the cause of periodontal disease and tooth decay. It is your responsibility to properly clean all of the surfaces of all of your teeth every day to make sure your dental work stays healthy for an extended period of time. We will help instruct you with proper cleaning techniques. You have decided to take your dental health seriously by asking about the possibilities of treatment. Should you decide to pursue treatment you must also be serious about recall and maintenance. Depending on the type of treatment that you have received, you must have recall visits every 3 months, 6 months or annually. These visits are extremely important as they allow us to monitor your progress and in many instances, treat problems while they are still small. The cost of recalls is a wise investment in protecting your teeth.
Caring for your Crown
Brushing twice a day and cleaning between your teeth daily with floss or inter-dental cleaners (specially shaped brushes) is especially important when you have crowns. These measures remove a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. It is especially important to remove plaque from the crown margin (the area where the crown meets the tooth). Margins above the gums are easier to brush and keep clean, preventing decay and periodontal disease. While these margins are easiest to clean, they are visible. For this reason margins on the front teeth are usually placed below the gums so they don’t show. The dentist is successful in hiding these margins on most teeth, however at times the gum may recede to expose these areas. This can occur for a number of reasons, but the most usual causes are over brushing or under brushing.
Caring for your Bridge
The dental bridge depends on the health of the adjacent teeth and gums for support. To care for your bridge, brush and floss normally after each meal. Super-floss and floss threaders are effective tools for keeping the area under your bridge plaque-free. Super-floss has a stiff end that helps in threading it through tight areas, and a fuzzy tufted segment that can remove plaque as you floss. Insert the super-floss under the bridge and use it to floss the sides of the teeth and under the bridge. Use the same procedure to care for your temporary bridge, being careful not dislodge it as you brush and floss.