Crowns (or caps) are indicated when teeth are heavily-filled or severely damaged. If the tooth in question has had Root Canal Therapy (RCT), it will normally be re-inforced with a metal post, forming part of the foundation for the overlying crown. Teeth can only be crowned if their supporting tissues (the gums and bone) are in a healthy condition.
Crowning a tooth involves preparing back the outer surface of the tooth, leaving a slightly smaller version of the tooth. This surface removal of tooth structure allows space to accommodate the crown which acts like a protective shell over the tooth. This shell prevents the weak tooth from splitting or the large filling from crumbling away.
Once a tooth is crowned, instead of the heavily restored tooth requiring refilling every 2-3 years, it becomes a very low maintenance tooth.
Bridgework follows the same concept as crowns in protecting heavily-filled teeth, however, it also closes spaces between one or more missing teeth. Again, both supporting teeth must have healthy supporting tissues.
Dental implants may also be considered before deciding on any bridgework. Despite being more expensive they have the advantage of the new tooth ‘standing on its own two feet’. This means not involving the other adjacent teeth. However, bridgework may still be preferable to implants if these supporting teeth are heavily restored. Bridging them would improve their strength as well as restore function to the area where teeth were missing.
A crown (left) and a bridge (right) are strong and durable replacements for natural teeth.