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A crown is a tooth-shaped cover placed over a tooth that is badly damaged or decayed. Many people call it a cap. Tooth crowns are one of the most effective dental solutions for restoring a tooth's shape, size and strength, or to improve its appearance. Crowns are recommended to:
Restore a broken tooth
Cover discolored teeth or dental implants
Protect a tooth from tooth decay
Hold a dental bridge in place
Crowns can be all metal, porcelain fused to metal (PFM), or all ceramic.
If you need a crown, you may also need a root canal treatment on the tooth. Such treatment may be recommended if you have a lot of decay in the tooth. Not everyone who needs a crown will also need a root canal. Before placing a crown, your dentist may need to build up a foundation to support it. A foundation is needed if large areas of the tooth are decayed, damaged or missing. To place a crown, your dentist will file down the tooth to make room for the crown. After filing down the tooth, there are two ways to make a permanent crown. Most crowns require two visits to the dentist. You receive a temporary crown at the first visit and wear it while your permanent crown is made.
A bridge is made to replace one or more missing teeth. Bridges can be supported in any of three ways:
By natural teeth
By a combination of teeth and implants
A traditional bridge is made by creating a crown for the teeth on either side of the space and placing a false tooth or teeth between the crowns. The crowns can be supported by natural teeth or by implants. The false tooth or teeth are attached to the crowns and fill the empty space.
If the teeth receiving the crowns are healthy and strong, they probably will not need root canal therapy. However, parts of the teeth will be removed to make space for the crowns. Traditional bridges are made either of porcelain fused to metal (PFM) or ceramics.
Getting a bridge requires at least two visits, but often more. At the first visit, your dentist prepares the teeth and covers them with temporary crowns. The dentist may also make impressions of the teeth. The bridge is placed at later visits.