PORCELAIN CROWNS, DENTAL BRIDGES AND TOOTH WEAR
A dental crown reinforces the remaining tooth structure after a fracture, heavy wear, large cavity or large existing filling breaks down and begins to fail. Porcelain crowns or caps are used to rebuild teeth when damage is so extensive that a filling can’t be used but the natural teeth can still be saved.
*Did you know that crowns can be made from either porcelain or metal?
Porcelain is the more natural-looking option, while metal is hands down the strongest option. In fact, Dr. Evans even recommends gold crowns on the very back teeth because gold has the best track record for longevity. But if gold is not for you, long term success can also be achieved with porcelain. Best of all, both types of crowns can last for decades if properly cared for.
Dr. Evans can discuss the benefits of each of these
alternatives with you during your initial consultation.
HOW LONG DO CROWNS LAST?
Like all dental restorations, crowns have a lifespan and it is very difficult to predict their longevity. If your remaining tooth is very short or badly broken down there may not be enough tooth to retain a crown long-term and other options will need to be discussed.
Also, your individual risk factors and personal homecare habits will contribute to the longevity of the crown. Most crowns can be expected to last between 5-10 years before needing to be replaced, although both longer and shorter time frames occur routinely.
WHY REPLACE A MISSING TOOTH?
Missing teeth not only take away from a beautiful smile, they also put your dental health at risk. The neighboring teeth will shift into the gap left by a missing tooth. Over time this will dramatically affect your bite, making it harder to chew and harder to properly clean the remaining teeth.
“A bridge could be a good choice for replacing a single missing tooth or replacing multiple missing teeth. A dental bridge replaces each missing tooth and is anchored on either end by crowns attached to either healthy natural teeth or dental implants. A bridge is not removable and is a great choice if you are tired of dealing with a removable partial denture.”
IMPLANT OPTION vs. BRIDGE
Bridges require attachment to either healthy teeth or multiple implants.
If you are missing a tooth and a dental implant is a viable option in your clinical situation, an implant is almost always the best option.
A dental implant replaces the missing tooth root and fuses to the jawbone, helping maintain the bone in that area as well as around the adjacent teeth. A single crown is then attached to the implant providing you with the look, feel, and function of a real tooth. You can easily floss, brush, and maintain healthy gums around the implant.
Not everyone is a candidate for dental implants. If that is the case, a bridge may be your only viable option. This is still a good solution but less ideal than the implant supported crown.
HOW LONG DOES A DENTAL BRIDGE LAST?
It is very difficult to predict the longevity of a bridge. Several factors such as damage to the supporting teeth, amount of remaining tooth structure, and future risk of cavity formation around the crowns all contribute to the longevity of a bridge. Most bridges can be expected to last between 5-10 years, or longer, before needing to be replaced. No dental restorations last forever. A dental bridge is a durable, long-lasting solution. Your individual risk factors and personal homecare habits will contribute to the longevity of the bridge. We will be glad to help you understand and manage your risk factors to maintain your bridge for as long as possible.
This is sometimes a difficult concept for patients to wrap their brains around. Usually two things happen with our patients that have tooth wear.
- They have it and they KNOW it, or
- They have it and DON’T know it!
The patients that fall into the latter category have never realized that over the years their teeth have slowly and steadily worn down or eroded away because it has been happening over a long period of time.
Abnormal tooth wear is the loss of tooth structure that is progressing faster than it should. As we get older, the rate at which teeth wear accelerates. Once you wear through the strongest part of your tooth (enamel), the weaker inner part (dentin) wears away at an incredible 5-7 times faster than the outside enamel
Tooth wear has long term consequences and causes pretty significant damage that can lead to TMJ disorder, the need for root canals, crowns or even loss of teeth.
The cosmetic impact is obvious. The visible shortening of the teeth and unpleasant changes in the appearance of your smile is easily seen on the front teeth. The wear on the back teeth may or may not be as obvious.
“A worn smile can make you look significantly older!”
WHAT CAUSES TOOTH WEAR?
Tooth wear can be placed into two classifications:
Erosion occurs when acids in the mouth slowly dissolve the teeth away. This is one of the most common causes of tooth wear.
Where does the acid come from? If you regularly experience heartburn, acid reflux or have been diagnosed with GERD by a physician you are at high risk for tooth wear because the teeth may be continually being bathed in your own gastric acid.
Abrasion is another cause of abnormal wear. This is the rubbing, clenching and/or grinding the teeth together. This may occur while you are asleep, but also during the daytime. Throughout the day you may be unknowingly grinding or clenching while working or driving.
There are also situations that our patients have a combination of factors that include both erosion and abrasion.
SO HOW DO YOU TREAT TOOTH WEAR?
Your recommended treatment will largely depend on the cause of your tooth wear. For patients with acid erosion we recommend dietary changes to help minimize the production of your stomach acids. There are also over the counter medications for your acid reflux. Additionally, there are special mints and special toothpaste that help reduce the acidity of your saliva.
In cases where the main cause is grinding or clenching your teeth, the recommendation will be for you to wear a small, comfortable custom made mouth guard or TMJ appliance to protect them.
In more severe cases, the bite has changed and altered the way your teeth function with each other and restorative dental work may be needed to help protect your teeth from further damage.