The crown of a tooth is that part which is visible in the mouth. An artificial crown is used to protect and restore a broken, weakened or heavily filled tooth. They are also used to improve the appearance of very severely discoloured teeth.
Crowns are made of many different materials including metals and ceramics or a combination.
A crown could be a good solution for you if you have some discoloured fillings and would like to improve their appearance. Crowns can be used to replace these to give you a more appealing smile. Additionally, if you have had root canal treatment you will need a crown to protect or cap the restored tooth, allowing you to eat and bite down on it as if it was a real tooth. Crowns are also used to anchor a bridge or denture firmly in place in the mouth.
A bridge fixes a replacement tooth (or teeth) to one or more remaining natural teeth or implants. Some bridges have crowns at each end. Others are fixed to the surface of the teeth next to the gap. Sometimes a bridge is only fixed to the tooth on one side of the gap.
Bridges are made of metal and porcelain or sometimes just porcelain.
If you have a few or all of your teeth missing, one solution is to have a denture.
Implants are one way of replacing missing teeth. Unlike other forms of replacement teeth, dental implants are small metal (mostly titanium) devices not unlike a screw fitting which are inserted into the jaw during surgery. Teeth, in the form of a crown or bridge are then attached to the implant, or the implant can be used to support dentures.
Your dentist should discuss with you whether implants would be right for you, and explain any associated risks.
Patients need to have healthy gums, and enough jawbone to take the implant that supports the replacement teeth although techniques are available to add (graft) additional bone if needed. Patients must also be prepared to maintain very good oral hygiene and visit the dentist regularly. Implants, like teeth, may be lost if mouth hygiene is poor.
Implant patients need to be in good general health. Some chronic diseases, such as diabetes, osteoporosis or chronic sinus problems, could interfere with healing and make implants more likely to fail. Make sure that you tell your dentist about any medicines that you take regularly, and about your smoking habits. Smoking may well shorten the life of your implant.
Implants involve treatment over a period of several months and you may be referred to another dentist who can do this. Since they are a complicated form of treatment, implants can be expensive.