The thought of dental work can be daunting, and it becomes more confusing when discussing the various types or procedures that can restore your smile. From implants and bridges to crowns and veneers, each is distinctive and involves a different process though they share the goal of enhancing the appearance and improving the performance of your teeth. Implants, crowns, bridges, and veneers: Here is what you need to know:
Dental implants have been around since the early 1950s, when an orthopedic surgeon in Sweden created and implanted the first prosthetic tooth. Basically, a dental implant is a fixture- typically titanium- that is surgically implanted into the jaw, with the goal of fusing it to the jawbone over the course of months. This implanted ‘tooth’ is meant to replace the original roots and support system of missing teeth that could be impacting the patient’s speech, chewing, bite, and smile. A dental implant may serve to support a single tooth or several teeth when used for a bridge or to support a denture- but more on that later. A dental implant is meant to be an effective replacement tooth when the patient has lost teeth due to trauma or decay- and it is very stable with an overall success rate of nearly 98% widely.
Sometimes a surgical implant is not warranted, and your dentist may recommend dental crowns, instead. A dental crown is a cap that is bonded over a tooth to improve its appearance, while also enhancing its stability and strength. Crowns are glued or cemented over the part of the tooth above the gum line, making the natural tooth more aesthetically appealing and sturdy. Your dentist may prepare a dental crown at your appointment for a temporary solution, but final crowns are usually created in a lab and then sent to your dental provider. Crowns are generally composed of ceramic, porcelain fused to metal, or gold.
What are some reasons why a dental crown might be needed?
- Protection for a weak tooth, compromised and vulnerable due to decay, trauma, breakage, or a crack.
- Restoration for a tooth that is damaged, worn-down, or broken.
- To camouflage and stabilize teeth that have large, visible fillings.
- To support and stabilize a dental bridge.
- To cover and conceal teeth that are discolored, mis-shaped, or damaged.
- To conceal a dental implant.
- For other cosmetic reasons.
Crowns are also common in children. A crown can preserve a decayed baby tooth that lacks the integrity to withstand a filling. Crowns also serve a protective measure in children, particularly if the young patient struggles with tolerating dental care, treatment, and hygiene. A pediatric or family dentist may suggest stainless-steel caps or crowns to protect and maintain compromised baby teeth.
Sometimes, implants and crowns are just the beginning and what is often needed are bridges. A dental bridge is a prosthetic tooth that is stabilized by teeth on either side of it, or that ‘bridge’ the tooth. Bridges are meant to replace missing teeth and they are permanently adhered and bonded in place to crowns on both sides. It is important to keep the bridge clean as it literally encompasses three, or more, abutment teeth. If these abutment or anchor teeth decay or become damaged, it can be problematic for the bridge. Good oral care is integral for long-term success when you have a dental bridge. So, why bother with a bridge? There are many reasons:
- Improved speech articulation.
- Easier to chew and eat.
- Prevents face from appearing sunken; improves facial shape.
- Restores your ‘bite’.
- Enhances the appearance of your smile.
- Avoids future misalignment caused by missing teeth.
- Restores self-confidence and esteem.
Patients should know that getting a bridge usually requires two dental visits: one for the preparation of the mold for the bridge, and second for the bonding of the dental bridge.
Many patients want to improve their smile but do not clinically need implants or bridges; this is often when veneers are a viable option. Dental veneers are thin coverings, usually comprised of porcelain or a resin composite, that is laid over your natural teeth. This hides any flaws, like discoloration or gaps, while giving the appearance of your own, natural teeth. Veneers are very thin and customized to change the color, size, and shape of your teeth. Veneers are adhered to the natural teeth and are treated much like regular teeth, as they are still susceptible to stains or dental trauma. You might be a candidate for veneers if you have:
- Discoloration due to a root canal.
- Medication or fluoride induced stains.
- Large, unsightly fillings.
- Worn teeth.
- Broken or chipped teeth.
- Misaligned or irregularly positioned teeth.
- Gaps or spaces.
Typically, it takes three trips to your dentist for veneers: a consultation, a fitting, and the application of your new veneers- whether you are getting a single tooth or all teeth veneered.
Which Option is Right for You?
A dental provider specializing in cosmetic dentistry will be a great resource for you when trying to determine the best approach for enhancing your smile. They can discuss the most prudent and practical procedures that make sense for you, your budget, and your teeth. It is important to feel comfortable and trust the dentist that you choose for implants, crowns, bridges, and veneers. Choose a Roanoke dentist that puts the focus on you- the patient- and that strives to make your visit a pleasant one. In Roanoke, patients rely on the expertise of Dr. Ramsey and Dr. Irby, serving patients of all ages and offering a wide gamut of comprehensive family dental care. Call for a consultation and appointment today.