If you think about it, your teeth are marvels of engineering.
Once your permanent, adult teeth are in place, they’re designed to work flawlessly for six, seven, or even eight decades or longer. What gets in the way of that lifetime of service are accidents, decay, and plain old wear and tear.
Teeth can wear out, they can break, and decay can and does happen in spite of people’s best efforts to maintain their teeth. Teeth can also become deeply discolored, leading to social embarrassment when smiling.
Fortunately, dentistry has solutions to those problems.
Worn or Decayed Teeth
If a tooth is worn or decayed to the point where restoring it with one or more fillings isn’t an option, a dental crown is the solution. Crowns are also used after a root canal procedure.
A dental crown is a cap, usually made of porcelain fused to metal, that fits over the damaged tooth. The combination of porcelain and metal is very strong and has a very natural appearance. Once they’re in place, crowns are identical, or very nearly so, to your existing teeth.
Dental crowns restore your tooth’s functionality so that you can chew on it without any discomfort. Crowns also restore the natural appearance of the tooth and help protect it against infection.
When you need a crown, Dr. Duffield will take a mold of your existing tooth so that a dental laboratory can create a permanent crown. While your crown is being fabricated, you may receive a temporary crown that will still allow you to eat. However, temporary crowns aren’t as strong as one custom-made just for you.
Once your custom crown is in, it’ll be cemented to your tooth.
Your crown should function for about 10 years or more, depending on the amount of wear and other factors. After that, it’ll need to be replaced.
When a tooth is lost, the gap that’s left poses a number of challenges. The absence of a tooth makes it more difficult to chew on that side. The neighboring teeth, no longer held in place by the now-missing tooth, may begin to drift. And the gap between teeth can cause you to hesitate to smile.
A dental bridge is the traditional solution for one or more missing teeth.
A bridge consists of two parts: one or more abutments that anchor the bridge, and the “false” tooth that fills the gap, known as the pontic.
The abutments are actually crowns that fit over the teeth (abutment teeth) on either side of the gap. To allow the crowns to fit, the enamel on the teeth is reduced. The crowns on the abutment teeth are part of the bridge and hold the replacement tooth firmly in place.
The traditional bridge is still the most common by far, but there are other types of dental bridges. In some cases,, it’s possible to use what’s known as a cantilever bridge where there’s only one neighboring tooth. However, this type of bridge is seldom used these days. And the wings of a Maryland bridge are bonded to the backs of the neighboring teeth.
Once a permanent bridge is installed, you brush it just like the rest of your teeth. You’ll need to take particular care to keep the bridge itself clean and to keep the neighboring teeth in top shape. Decay in those teeth can cause one or both crowns to fail, which will cause the bridge to fail.
Flossing around the bridge requires a different technique than for the rest of your teeth, and the staff will show you how to do that.
Dental bridgework is very durable. It should provide many years of comfortable chewing and confident smiles.
Abutments on neighboring teeth aren’t the only way to anchor dental bridgework. For some people, dental implants are a very desirable option.
Rather than grinding down healthy neighboring teeth to accept crowns, a small metal screw (the implant) is inserted into the bone where the tooth used to be. After a period of time, up to six months, the bone fuses to the screw and firmly anchors it. Then, a dental crown (the “false” tooth) is firmly attached to the portion of the implant about the gumline.
Two dental implants can permanently anchor a dental bridge, and a series of implants can anchor an entire arch of missing teeth.
There are a number of factors that determine whether a person is a candidate for a dental implant. Dr. Duffield will be happy to consult with you to determine your best option for comfortable eating and a beautiful smile.
Call us at our Royal Oak, MI office at (248) 721-4502 for an appointment. We’ll be happy to schedule a day and time that works best for you.