Compared to fillings which just cover a small portion of a tooth, a crown (or cap) encases the entire visible portion of a tooth. In effect, the crown acts as the tooth's new outer surface. A dental crown is used when a tooth is broken or decayed to such an extent that fillings aren't able to repair the problem. The crown is able to provide a protective shell around the damaged or decayed tooth to strengthen it, as well as to improve the appearance of the tooth. They can also help restore a tooth to it's original shape, are used commonly for teeth that have been broken. While crowns come in different materials, the most common crowns typically have some mixture of porcelain in them to give them a look and feel similar to a natural tooth.
A dental bridge is a false tooth that is used to fill the gap created by a missing tooth or teeth. A gap between your teeth can be potentially dangerous to your dental health, as it can cause your teeth to shift resulting in a change in your bite that could be painful. Dental bridges help alleviate this problem by using the two surrounding teeth as anchors to hold a false tooth in the place where the gap is. Typically, porcelain crowns are placed over the surrounding teeth, and the false tooth, known as a pontic, is fused between them. There are three types of dental bridges that are commonly used today:
1. Traditional fixed bridge - This is the most common type of dental bridge, in which porcelain crowns are placed over the two surrounding teeth and used as anchors to hold the false tooth in place. The false tooth is usually made of either porcelain fused with metal or ceramics.
2. Cantilever bridge – A cantilever bridge is used when teeth are present on only one side of the gap. These are used typically in areas of your mouth that don’t experience an intense chewing load, such as your front teeth.
3. Resin-bonded bridge - In a resin-bonded bridge, metal bands are bonded to the surrounding teeth with resin and used to hold a plastic false tooth in place. This type of bridge is typically used in areas of the mouth that undergo less stress, such as the front teeth.
Dental veneers are thin custom-made shells that cover the front surface of your teeth to improve their appearance. They are made of tooth-colored materials and can be used to improve the color of teeth that have been worn down or stained. Alternatively, they can be used to improve the shape or size of the tooth.
There are two types of veneers that are commonly used. Porcelain veneers are more durable and resist stains better. The properties of the material also help to create a very natural tooth look. Unlike porcelain veneers, composite resin veneers are not made in a laboratory, but instead directly applied to the teeth. They typically have a shorter life span and are less expensive. You might consider dental veneers if:
Dental Bonding is a restoration procedure in which a tooth-colored resin is bonded to a tooth and cured with an ultraviolet light. Bonding is faster and less expensive than veneers or crowns, and can thus be a good option to make small cosmetic improvements to your teeth. Unlike veneers and crowns, bonding can be done within one office visit since nothing has to be custom-made by a dental laboratory. Additionally, the procedure typically requires removing less of the tooth enamel compared to veneers and crowns. However, since bonding typically doesn’t last as long as other forms of restoration and is less resistant to stains, it is used more often for small cosmetic touch-ups rather than major restorations.
Dental inlays and onlays are a more conservative approach to tooth restoration than full crowns. They are used to repair rear teeth that have mild to moderate tooth decay, or for cracked teeth where the damage does not warrant a dental crown. Porcelain, composite resin, and sometimes gold, are used to create inlays and onlays. Inlays refer to those procedures where the bonded material is limited to the center of the tooth, while onlays refer to those procedures where the bonded material can extend further to one or more cusps of the tooth. The benefits include: