FAQs on tooth replacement and restoration

Dental Surgeon at Bupa UK
08 August 2016
An older woman smiling

If you have a broken, worn, severely decayed or missing tooth, your dentist may recommend a crown, veneer, bridge or implant. They’ll be happy to discuss the pros and cons of any treatment with you. As a dental surgeon here at Bupa I’ve answered some commonly asked questions about these treatments.

Why would I need a crown?

The structure of your tooth may be so badly damaged that a simple filling wouldn’t be a strong enough solution. If so, you may be advised to have a crown. A crown covers your weakened tooth to improve its strength and prevent further breakage.

What's the difference between a crown, bridge and veneer?

A crown (or cap) suggests you have a damaged tooth that needs to be restored. A ceramic veneer is a facing bonded to the visible surfaces of your tooth to improve its shape or shade. A bridge is a way of closing a gap by attaching a false tooth to the teeth either side of it.

What’s the difference between a bridge and an implant?

Both a bridge and an implant can be used to replace missing teeth or other gaps in your dental arch (arrangement of your teeth). Your dentist may suggest having one for cosmetic and/or practical reasons. A bridge is attached to your teeth. But an implant is placed into the bone of your jaw without any need to cut into your natural tooth structure.

What are crowns made of?

This depends on what the crown is being used for. Where strength and durability are more important, your dentist may suggest a metal crown. This may be at the very back of your mouth where biting pressures are highest and appearance isn’t crucial. Further forward, where the crown is visible but strength is still important, you may be recommended to have a crown with a ceramic surface. This can have a metal or special ceramic core depending on how you want it to look.

Will my crown match my natural teeth?

At the front of your mouth, where your teeth are most visible, it’s important to have the most natural-looking crown. Your dental technician will have all the information they need to make your crown look as natural as possible, including the shade of your surrounding teeth and any characteristics on the surface of your teeth that can be replicated. You may have a crown made entirely from ceramic. These are often strong and a good match for the shape and colour of your teeth.

How long do crowns last?

There’s no simple answer. A crown is very strong and should normally last for many years. Crowns sit over your own teeth, so good oral hygiene is vital to prevent any decay (at the point where your tooth meets the crown) and the crown failing in the future.

An implant sits in your jaw and there’s no natural tooth to decay. But you’ll still need to keep your implant clean to stop bacteria damaging the attachment between the implant and your jaw bone.

Why are implants expensive?

Implants involve a two-part process. Firstly, a titanium screw (implant) is placed into your jawbone with a surgical procedure. Later on, a crown is constructed and the two parts are cemented or screwed together to complete the restoration. Each stage is carefully planned and involves surgical and technical skills to ensure the result is both predictable and reliable. This may seem daunting, but with modern techniques this has become a straightforward process.

Dr Mark Hughes
Dental Surgeon at Bupa UK

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