What is… Dentistry explained

Crown

In simple terms it is a “hat” put on a tooth which has been prepared for it. It matches neighbouring teeth with color and shape making it practically indistinguishable from other teeth.

Crowns can be made from various materials. We can have metal-based crowns where the “hat” is made from steel covered in porcelain. The effect is quite good but unfortunately often you can see a bit of metal where the crown touches the gum. Also the porcelain layer is rather thin and does not ideally imitate a tooth.

Fully ceramic crowns do not have these disadvantages. Entire crown is made from ceramics, allowing for a broader range of aesthetic adjustments. They are perfect for rebuilding front teeth. One has to remember that such a crown has limited durability and shouldn’t be used on molars and premolars as it can eventually brake.

Herein lies another option for crown material – zirconia – a very durable material whilst remaining very aesthetic since it is already white. Such crown has a zirconia base with a bit of porcelain layered on top of it. Such crowns are aesthetic as well as durable making it an ideal choice to rebuild molars and premolars with maximum cosmetic effect. It is said that zirconia is the dentistry material of the future as zirconia fillings should not require any further interventions.

Gold crown is another option. In this case the base is made from this noble metal. These crowns decrease the risk of decay as gold is bacteriostatic – it pushes bacteria away. However, as with metal (steel) crowns, they are not ideally invisible so less aesthetic than other crowns.

When a crown is advised?

  • When too little of the existing tooth remained to apply traditional filling.
  • When we want to secure a weak tooth from breaking
  • When we want to rebuild a broken tooth.
  • To cover an implant
  • To rebuild a malcolored or misshapen tooth.
  • To fix a tooth after root canal treatment where traditional filling is not sufficient.
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Bridge

A bridge in simple terms is a structure of crowns fixed to each other. Therefore we can recreate missing tooth or teeth between existing ones. For example we can have a crown on a tooth, a crown replacing a missing tooth and another crown on an existing tooth fixed together to form one structure. Bridge is fixed to existing teeth or implants. As with any crown, the patient can freely decide which material will be used to form a bridge with the exception of a fully ceramic ones.

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Veneer

It is a very thin porcelain flake which imitates the external tooth surface it is placed on. It is the least invasive prosthodontic intervention which allows for best aesthetic effect. It is often compared to using plaster to regenerate nails. Veneer is used mostly to improve the aesthetics of the tooth. It is important to remember that veneer can only be used on a healthy tooth without major fillings. If there were any – a crown is the recommended way to go.

Veneer can be used when:

  • Teeth are discolored and resist whitening
  • There are fillings in front teeth that keep getting chipped due to biting.
  • There are missing fragments at the tooth edge not possible to recreate with other means.
  • There are gaps between the teeth that we want to get rid of.
  • We wish to change the shape of the tooth slightly and change it’s orientation.
  • We want to drastically change teeth color.
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Onlay

It is a method of tooth filling when the cavity is of great size where traditional filling could be risky. Usually it is made from porcelain based on jaw impression taken earlier. Such solution is much more durable than traditional tooth filling.

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Cofferdam

It is a thin piece of a rubber sheet that is used to isolate the tooth or several teeth from the surrounding environment inside the mouth.

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Sealing

It is a very non-invasive form of preventing tooth decay in healthy teeth. It constitutes of applying sealant in places where teeth tend to decay the most so all cavities and furrows. The sealant is in a liquid form so it fills in all cavities. It is important to remember that this procedure can be done only on healthy teeth without any fillings.

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Extraction

This is a professional term for a dentist for tooth extraction. It is performed only if there are no other possibilities of treatment.

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