A tooth must usually be reduced in size to accommodate a crown. An impression is made of the existing tooth and an impression is made. The impression is sent to a special lab, which manufactures a custom-designed crown. In some cases, a temporary crown is applied until the permanent crown is ready. Permanent crowns are cemented in place. Crowns are sometimes confused with veneers, but they are quite different. Veneers are typically applied only to relatively small areas.
Caring For Your Crowns
With proper care, a good quality crown could last up to eight years or longer. It is very important to floss in the area of the crown to avoid excess plaque or collection of debris around the restoration. Certain behaviors such as jaw clenching or bruxism (teeth grinding) significantly shorten the life of a crown. Moreover, eating brittle foods, ice or hard candy can compromise the adhesion of the crown, or even damage the crown.
Dentures are designed to replace missing teeth, and are worn by millions of Americans. Technological advancements have resulted in dentures that are lightweight and mimic the look and feel of natural teeth. Most dentures are made from a combination of metals and synthetic material such as acrylic resin.
* Dentures are generally classified as partial or full. Partial dentures are designed to replace a small section of teeth, and help prevent existing healthy natural teeth from shifting position; full dentures generally replace an entire set of teeth such as upper and lower dentures. Many candidates for conventional dentures (also called “immediate” dentures) are able to wear the appliances immediately following removal of affected natural teeth.
Before immediate dentures are worn, a mold of the patient’s mouth – specifically the jaws – must be made in order for the dentures to be customized for the individual.
Partial dentures, also sometimes called “over dentures,” are designed to fit over a small section of implants or natural teeth. Partial dentures are characteristic by their pinkish gum-like plastic bases, on to which replacement teeth are attached. Small clasps are used to attach the denture to existing teeth. Some clasps, which can be more expensive, are made of natural-looking material that is hard-to-detect.
In some cases, a crown will be installed on an existing healthy tooth to facilitate a better hold for the clasp.
There are alternative, natural-looking materials to conventional silver-colored fillings – materials made from porcelain and composite resins, which are colored to match natural tooth enamel. Unfortunately, few materials can match the strength and durability of dental amalgam and such, may need more frequent replacement. Common amalgam alternatives include:
As stated, composite fillings are just what the name implies: a mixture of resins and fine particles designed to mimic the color of natural teeth. While not as strong as dental amalgam, composite fillings provide a pleasing aesthetic alternative. Sometimes, composite resins need to be cemented, or bonded to a tooth to allow for better adhesion.
Like composite resins, these materials are tooth-colored. Ionomers are made from a combination of various materials, including ground glass and acrylic resins. Ionomers are typically used for fillings near the gum line or tooth root, where biting pressure is not a factor. They are more fragile than dental amalgam, however. A small amount of fluoride is released by these compounds in order to facilitate strengthened enamel in the affected area.
This material is usually a combination of porcelain, glass powder and ceramic. Candidates for porcelain fillings are typically crowns, veneers and onlays and inlays. Unlike ionomers, porcelain fillings are more durable but can become fractured if exposed to prolonged biting pressures.
Before development of dental implants, dentures were the only alternative to replacing a missing tooth or teeth. Implants are synthetic structures that are placed in the area of the tooth normally occupied by the root. Implants are anchored to the jawbone or metal framework on the bone and act as a foundation for an artificial tooth or permanent bridge. In some cases, implants can be used to attach dentures.
Not everyone is a candidate for a dental implant. For a successful implant to take hold, a candidate must have proper bone density and have a strong immune system. Implants are so well-designed, they mimic the look and feel of natural teeth. Implants are usually made of titanium. In general, good candidates who have dental implants can expect high success rates with the procedure.
The procedure can take several visits. During the first visit, an anchor is placed into the jawbone and the site is allowed to heal for several weeks or months. This gives your tissue time to grow around the anchor to more firmly hold it in place. During a follow-up visit, an artificial, natural-looking tooth is fitted over the implanted anchor.
In just two or three dental visits, a veneer can reverse years of stains caused by foods, caffeine and tobacco use. Special thin laminates, called veneers, can also be used to correct discolored, worn down, cracked and chipped teeth. Veneers can also be used to close unsightly gaps between teeth. Stronger types of veneers made of porcelain, also called composite veneers, typically last longer because they are bonded to the tooth.
An impression of the tooth must be made and a veneer molded by a lab technician. Because veneers require a small amount of enamel to be removed, they are permanent and non-reversible. The process involves buffing the tooth, removing an extremely thin layer of the tooth to allow for the thickness of the veneer, an impression of the tooth, and final bonding of the veneer to the tooth with special cement. A special light is used to complete the process.
Often, people with stained or discolored teeth may just need a whitening procedure in order to restore their smile. People with stained or dull teeth usually benefit from whitening, which is a safe and effective way to brighten stained, discolored or dull teeth. Even a stubborn single tooth that is noticeably duller or less white than your other teeth can be individually brightened.
Teeth bleaching products, which contain peroxides, actually change your natural tooth color anywhere from five to seven -- even up to twelve -- shades brighter. One process known as chairside bleaching involves applying either a protective gel to your gums or a rubber shield to protect the soft tissues in the mouth. A bleaching agent is then applied to the teeth, and a special light is used to enhance the chemical action. If your teeth aren't very dark or very stained, you may need only one bleaching session. Tooth bleaching safely lightens the color of your teeth, and can last up to a year before a touch-up is needed.
In general, bleaching works for most people. Tooth bleaching is most effective if your teeth are darkened from age, coffee, tea or smoking. Teeth darkened with the color of yellow, brown or orange respond better to lightening. Other types of gray stains caused by fluorosis, smoking or tetracycline can be lightened, but with less-than-satisfactory results
An alternative to veneers is a process called bonding, in which a tooth-colored material that looks like the enamel of your teeth is molded and shaped, and then hardened and polished. Bonding can be used to improve the color of a tooth, or close unsightly gaps. Bonding is generally not as permanent a process as veneers, and can be vulnerable to the same kind of staining your natural teeth are prone to. Bonding can also be more prone to chips and cracks than veneers. Caps are generally preferred to bonding when such a procedure isn't deemed to be effective in the long run.
Teeth can become crooked, chipped, cracked, and even overlap as a result of many factors, including traumatic injury, bruxism (grinding) or even heredity. Cosmetic contouring and reshaping procedures can remedy, and in many cases, greatly improve these conditions. For example, an uneven or crooked tooth can be gently reshaped by removing a small amount of enamel, to correct the alignment.
Bridges are natural-looking dental appliances that can replace a section of missing teeth. Because they are custom-made, bridges are barely noticeable and can restore the natural contour of teeth as well as the proper bite relationship between upper and lower teeth. Bridges are sometimes referred to as fixed partial dentures, because they are semi-permanent and are bonded to existing teeth or implants. Some bridges are removable and can be cleaned by the wearer; others need to be removed by a dentist. Porcelain, gold alloys or combinations of materials are usually used to make bridge appliances. Appliances called implant bridges are attached to an area below the gum tissue, or the bone.
Crowns are synthetic caps, usually made of a material like porcelain, placed on the top of a tooth. Crowns are typically used to restore a tooth's function and appearance following a restorative procedure such as a root canal. When decay in a tooth has become so advanced that large portions of the tooth must be removed, crowns are often used to restore the tooth. Crowns are also used to attach bridges, cover implants, prevent a cracked tooth from becoming worse, or an existing filling is in jeopardy of becoming loose or dislocated. Crowns also serve an aesthetic use, and are applied when a discolored or stained tooth needs to be restored to its natural appearance.
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