Crowns, Onlays, Posts & Bridges
A dental crown or onlay is an artificial cap which fits over a damaged tooth to restore its natural appearance and function. They are used when the tooth is damaged and unable to support a normal filling.
Crowns or onlays may be used to repair teeth or improve their appearance where ordinary filling materials will be insufficient.
They can also be used following root canal treatment to protect the weakened and offer good aesthetics, correcting crooked or misshapen teeth as well as replacing large and unsightly fillings. Once a crown or onlay is fixed in place, it will look, feel and function just like any other tooth.
A crown will fully cover the entire tooth. An onlay will only partially cover the tooth.
Benefits of dental crowns/onlays
- Well-made crowns/onlays are strong and look and feel like natural teeth.
- The colour and shape can be matched to your own teeth.
- They last for many years if looked after properly.
What are the benefits of having a crown or onlay fitted?
If you have a tooth that has significant damage or a weakened structure, a crown or onlay can help support that tooth and prevent further decay, preserving your natural tooth for the future. Crowns or onlays can also improve the appearance of a tooth that is chipped or stained, restoring the tooth to its natural shape and colour.
What is a crown/onlay made from?
Different materials are used for crowns or onlays depending on the individual requirements of the tooth. If the crown/onlay is being placed for aesthetic reasons an all-ceramic material may be recommended, if more strength is required a porcelain bonded to precious metal can be a better option. In areas where the crown or onlay is likely to be under a lot of pressure a gold crown is suggested as it will be strong and hard wearing.
What is a post?
If a tooth has had root canal treatment and there is little tooth structure remaining it might be necessary for a post to be inserted before a crown or onlay is placed. The post can be custom made (gold) by a dental technician or premade (metal or fibre) before being fitted into the prepared root canal by the dentist and a crown/onlay being attached on top.
If you have a missing tooth (or teeth) there are several treatment options available to you.
- A denture is a removable option, it works well if you have multiple missing teeth on both sides of the arch.
- A bridge is a fixed option, which is a false tooth that is secured onto any of the neighbouring teeth you have. It is fixed in place so you don’t have to remove it.
- An implant is a fixed option, which do not disturb the other teeth. They work well for single or multiple missing teeth and have a high success rate.
How are bridges secured?
There are two main types of dental bridge.
The most common type consists of two crowns, made of porcelain or metal, which are permanently fitted to your natural teeth either side of the space, with the false tooth (or teeth) sitting in the middle. Conventional bridges involve full crowns being placed on teeth either side of a gap in your mouth, in order to support one or more false teeth in the gap.
An adhesive bridge is the other type. An adhesive bridge is a false tooth with metal or ceramic ‘wing retainers’ either side of it. These wings are bonded to the inner and biting surfaces of the supporting teeth. If the teeth either side of your missing teeth are strong and healthy, you may be able to have an adhesive bridge. They require less tooth preparation than a conventional bridge but are not suitable in all areas of the mouth.
What are bridges made of?
Bridges are most commonly made of porcelain and bonded to metal alloy materials. There are also new bridges made entirely of a special type of high strength ceramic material.
How do I look after my bridge?
Clean your bridge every day, to prevent problems such as bad breath and gum disease. You also have to clean under the false tooth every day. Your dentist or hygienist will show you how to use a bridge cleaning syringe or special floss, as a normal toothbrush alone will not be sufficient.
Can I have a bridge fitted straight after having a tooth removed?
It can take up to 3 months for your gums to heal properly after an extraction. This means that you may need to have a temporary acrylic (plastic) denture before the bridge is fitted.
What are the benefits of dental bridges?
- A dental bridge provides a reliable solution for missing teeth without surgery.
- The false teeth are matched to the colour of your own teeth for a natural look
- Replacing a missing tooth will help protect your remaining teeth. When you have gaps, remaining teeth may lean over or move into the space, affecting the way you bite. Food can also get trapped in spaces, increasing your risk of infection and tooth decay.