Crowns & Bridges
When a tooth has too many fillings in it or there is significant decay or a large fracture usually a crown is indicated. A crown is like a suit of armor to help protect the tooth. The tooth is made smaller, a mold is made and the crown is constructed, then cemented onto the tooth. The material used to fabricate the crown is dependent on the clinical situation. For the front teeth, all porcelain crowns are indicated and can be used to correct either decay or fractures or for cosmetic issues such as discolored or overlapped teeth.
For the back teeth, a combination of metal and porcelain is used, otherwise known as a porcelain fused to metal or PFM. This has been the workhorse for posterior teeth and has a long success rate. However, there has been a recent influx of all porcelain crowns designed for the back teeth. This application is especially useful for people that do not want any metal in their mouth
Although full gold crowns are not used routinely, gold is a very kind metal to use when a person has bite or grinding issues.
Fillings actually weaken a tooth as the enamel gets drilled away and is replaced by a filling, either old style metal fillings or the more modern tooth-colored bonded fillings. The more interruptions in the enamel, the weaker the tooth becomes. That is why often at some point your dentist will not choose a filling but choose a crown. An apt analogy is a band-aid is used for a small cut but if the cut is too deep no number of band-aids will work, stitches are indicated.
With good home care, a crown can often last 10-20 years. As is always recommended it is important to visit your dentist at least twice a year so that he or she can monitor the wear on your crowns.