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Crown and Bridge

Crowns

The outside of each tooth is made of enamel, which is extremely hard. Although teeth are strong and difficult to break, trauma (such as a fall) may chip or break them. Tooth decay and large fillings may also severely weaken a tooth, with a high risk that the tooth may fall apart. Root canal treatment, where the pulp of the tooth containing nerves and blood vessels is removed, can also weaken a tooth, as can grinding your teeth, known as bruxism. Teeth may also wear down over time.

In these cases, a crown is often the best way and sometimes the only way to save a tooth and strengthen it. A crown fits over the existing natural tooth and replaces the natural crown, the part of the tooth seen above the gums.

Bridges

Bridges replace one or more missing teeth. They consist of an artificial tooth anchored to the natural teeth on each side of the gap. If a tooth is missing, lost through an accident, or is too badly decayed to save with a crown, a bridge may be the treatment of choice. An implant is another way of replacing missing teeth.

Materials and indications

Crowns and Bridges are usually made of porcelain and gold alloy. Porcelain is strong and can be made to match the colour of the natural teeth. It is resistant to staining and can be cleaned if it becomes stained.

Gold alloy is used for its strength, hardness and durability. It is especially useful for molars which must withstand the forces of grinding and crushing. Gold alloy and porcelain are well tolerated by the gum and cheek. An allergic reaction to gold alloy or porcelain is rare.

Teeth have many functions apart from chewing and biting, so missing teeth should be replaced for the following reasons: