If you have just received a crown and bridge, proper aftercare is important to protect your dental crowns and bridge so they last longer, as well as to protect your oral health.
A dental bridge is a set of one or more artificial teeth, used to replace a gap where there are missing teeth. A dental bridge can be placed by attaching to existing teeth or, more commonly, dental crowns placed on the teeth surrounding the gap, or dental implants.
Dental Crown-Supported Bridge
A dental crown is a little cap often used to support a damaged or broken tooth, but crowns are also used with bridges. A crown will cover the tooth completely, and is cemented on to secure it.
A dental crown provides something for the bridge to attach to, and strengthens the supporting tooth’s structure, to help it support the bridge. Usually, a dental crown is placed on each tooth on either side of a gap, with the bridge affixed to both crowns.
Procedure To Place A Crown-Supported Bridge
When a crown-supported bridge is being placed, the tooth on either side of the gap is fitted for a crown. The dentist prepares these teeth by removing a very thin layer of tooth enamel so each dental crown fits better and will bond to the tooth better. A mold is then taken of the teeth and gap in between. Custom dental crowns will be made in a lab, with a custom bridge fitted on to them.
Patients are given a temporary crown for each of the prepared teeth and a temporary bridge. These are more fragile than the permanent set which is being prepared. This helps avoid teeth sensitivity and shifting. A separate visit is needed for the final set to be placed.
The permanent crowns are checked to ensure a good fit before being cemented on. Any adjustments will be made. The bridge is secured onto these crowns, to sit perfectly in the gap. The dentist will also confirm that this fits well, making any adjustments.
The procedure to prepare teeth for crowns is minimally invasive, so no lengthy healing process is required, although it’s normal to have some sensitivity to pressure or temperature after your teeth have been prepared. Pain medication or a toothpaste for sensitive teeth can be used. The sensitivity should go away after a few days. To minimize discomfort and keep the area clean, warm salt water rinses can help, too.
A local anesthetic may have been used when preparing the teeth for crowns to minimize discomfort, so the area may be numb for a few hours after the dental appointment until the anesthesia wears off. While the area is numb, it’s important for patients to avoid hot liquids and hard or potentially sharp foods, as they may hurt their mouths.
Sometimes, a patient may not notice an uneven bite until after the anesthetic wears off, and then realize the crown or the bridge feels too high. In these cases, it’s important to return to have an adjustment, to prevent damage to the bridge or extra stresses on the jaw.
There may be some minor swelling which should ease on its own after the first few days. Anti-inflammatory medications, like Advil, and salt water rinses will help with this, as well.
Proper Care For a Temporary Crown and Bridge
Temporary crowns and bridges aren’t as durable as a permanent set and aren’t custom fitted, so when the permanent ones are ready, another appointment should be made as soon as possible to have them placed. They are also placed with a cement that is not intended to be permanent, so they can be removed more easily when it’s time to place the final set.
With a temporary set, patients should avoid sticky and hard foods as these may damage or pull off a temporary crown or bridge.
Teeth and gums still need to be kept clean, so regular brushing and flossing, at least two times daily, is still important, although care must be taken around the temporary dental apparatus, being gentle to avoid damaging or moving it. Pull floss out from the side instead of the top, and don’t brush too aggressively.
If a temporary set comes off, it will need to be put back on by a dentist.
Proper Care For a Permanent Crown and Bridge
After a permanent crown is placed, sticky and hard foods need to be avoided for 24 hours to allow the dental cement to set properly. If you must eat these foods, use the opposite side of your mouth to chew. Afterwards, a patient can gradually start eating a wider range of foods, including hard and chewy ones.
Maintaining proper oral hygiene is simple and requires no special care, but it is essential to prevent gum disease and tooth decay. You just need to brush and floss regularly, just as you would normally. Be sure to keep up on regular checkups and cleanings with your dentist.
A floss threader, which can be found at most pharmacies, helps push floss around bridges and wires, is recommended. The area of the gums under the false teeth of the bridge also needs to be cleaned; a floss threader will help with this.
A crowned tooth can become decayed. The underlying tooth is most vulnerable to decay just below where the crown covers the tooth. If the tooth becomes decayed, the crown and bridge will need to be removed for the tooth to be treated, and then placed again.
If a bridge or crown falls out, it will need to be taken to the dentist as soon as possible. Putting it in place and securing it with dental adhesive until the appointment is recommended. It may be possible to use the crown or bridge again, although a new one may be needed if the old one was damaged.
At Orchard Park Dental, we offer bridge and crown services, as well as emergency services in case a bridge or dental crown falls out. We’ll also answer any questions you have about bridges; our friendly team is here to help.