What Is a Porcelain Crown?
Terms like dental bridge, veneers and crowns are best understood in the context of successfully treating missing or damaged teeth.
For example, perhaps you have one or more teeth missing due to injury or disease. A missing tooth can greatly impact your oral health as well as the integrity of your jaw, your bite and your ability to chew comfortably.
For this reason, it is important to take action to stabilize the remaining teeth and surrounding jaw by filling in the space left by the missing tooth.
Often, your cosmetic dentist will recommend a dental bridge to achieve these goals. But before you can get a dental bridge installed, you may first need to have any damaged teeth surrounding the gap repaired and/or stabilized to support your new bridge.
Common procedures to repair or stabilize surrounding teeth include root canals and crowns.
In this article, learn why your Sherman Oaks dentist may recommend a dental bridge, how it works, steps to install a bridge and more.
What Is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge is a fixed dental prosthesis or artificial device. Fixed dental devices like bridges are permanent and cannot be removed except by a dental provider.
This device takes its name from its function. A dental bridge literally acts like a bridge to fill in the gap left behind by a missing tooth or teeth.
A bridge is one of several options to fill in gaps left by a missing tooth or teeth. If your gap is formed by only one or perhaps two missing teeth, a dental bridge might be the right option for you.
However, if you have more than two consecutive teeth missing, you may still be a candidate for a different type of bridge called an implant-supported dental bridge.
A dental bridge may be constructed differently depending on the location of the missing tooth or teeth.
3 Main Types of Dental Bridges
There are three main types of dental bridges. Each is recommended in certain situations.
The most commonly recommended type of bridge is called a “fixed bridge.” A fixed bridge can fill in a gap left by one or two consecutive missing teeth. The actual gap itself is filled in with a type of artificial tooth called a “pontic.”
The bridge is attached to the two teeth on either side of the gap. Before a dental bridge can be attached, your dentist must file down these two teeth and place a crown over each.
Once each crown has been placed, the bridge can be permanently bonded to these two surrounding teeth.
Front teeth bridge.
Another type of dental bridge is called the front teeth bridge. As the name suggests, this type of bridge is used when the tooth or teeth that are missing are located in the front of the mouth.
With a front teeth bridge, it may be necessary to place a crown over four teeth – the two adjacent to the gap on each side. This is because the front of the mouth must withstand strong bite strength and the bridge may require extra support to function as needed.
Yet another type of dental bridge is called a bonded bridge or Maryland bridge. This bridge type may be recommended if you are only missing one tooth in an area that withstands a lower level of bite strength and you do not want to have the adjacent teeth filed down and crowned.
With a Maryland bridge, the pontic has two “wings” that are bonded directly to the two surrounding teeth so a crown on each tooth isn’t necessary. This bridge is not as stable but can be the right choice in some situations.
Implant-supported dental bridge.
Another special type of dental bridge is supported by dental implants. Often this is recommended if the surrounding teeth aren’t sufficient to support a bridge.
What Is a Crown?
If you have never had a dental crown before, you may be wondering what a crown is and what the procedure entails.
A crown is a fancy way of saying “dental cap.” A crown is just a cap shaped like a tooth that is placed over a tooth that has been damaged in some way. The most common reason patients have a crown installed is because a tooth has gotten infected and this has led to a root canal or even an extraction (in the case of a dental implant).
When a root canal procedure is performed, your dentist removes the inside pulp of the tooth that has become inflamed or infected. While the tooth remains alive, it must then have a crown installed to protect it from repeat damage or infection.
Another reason to have a crown installed is to be able to place a dental bridge. In order for the dental bridge and its pontic(s) to fit into the gap in your teeth, the two teeth on either side of the gap must be filed down to make room.
Then a crown must be placed over each filed tooth to protect it. Finally, the dental bridge can be permanently bonded to these two surrounding crowned teeth.
What Is a Porcelain Crown?
A crown can be made out of several different types of material. Metal, porcelain fused to metal, all porcelain, all ceramic, all resin and pressed ceramic crowns are the most common crown material types.
Each material type has certain advantages. Porcelain can be used with metal or ceramic materials.
All porcelain is a popular and durable choice if you have a metal allergy. Porcelain fused to metal is another good choice to combine durability with color matching.
Pressed ceramic with porcelain veneers is becoming one of the most popular choices for both color matching and durability.
Here, the word “veneer” indicates a thinner outer cover for the purposes of color matching the crowned tooth with the surrounding natural teeth. Porcelain veneers can be applied to metal or ceramic material in the form of a color-matched cover.
How Is a Dental Bridge Attached?
There are two main ways a dental bridge can be attached permanently.
The first way is to crown the two (or four) surrounding adjacent teeth. Then your Sherman Oaks dentist can apply bonding glue to permanently secure the pontic to the surrounding teeth.
For a bonded (Maryland) bridge, instead of securing the pontic to two surrounding crowned teeth, the pontic will be secured by means of two “wings,” one on either side, which are bonded to the surrounding teeth.
Even though a dental bridge is a permanent prosthetic device, the adhesive used can still degrade somewhat over time. In some cases (and more frequently with a bonded bridge type), this can cause the dental bridge to break loose.
When this occurs, typically all that is needed is to revisit your cosmetic dentist to have the bridge re-bonded to the surrounding teeth.
Are These Procedures Covered by Dental Insurance?
There isn’t a “one size fits all” answer to this question. The answer depends largely on your insurance provider as well as the purposes for the procedure.
If your procedure is solely for cosmetic purposes, it is unlikely that dental insurance will cover any of the costs.
However, if your procedure is for medical treatment, dental insurance may cover all or a portion of the costs for a root canal, crown, dental bridge or implant-supported dental bridge.