Smiling dental patient looking at her new smile in a mirror
Dr Chris Darby

Dr Chris Darby

Post-operative Care for Dental Crowns and Bridges

Has your recent visit to the dentist resulted in the need for a dental crown or bridge? These treatments are some of the most useful therapeutic and cosmetic tools that dentists have at their disposal. They are versatile and can do anything from addressing misshapen and missing teeth to strengthening teeth that have been decimated by decay or trauma. They can even be used to cap weak brittle teeth and help prevent further damage.

These procedures can be used to treat any of the following:

  • Decay damaged teeth
  • Weak Brittle Teeth that have been filled with a large filling
  • Teeth that have been subject to root canal therapy
  • A fractured or worn tooth
  • To fill a missing tooth as part of a dental implant procedure

Dental crowns can be made from a range of materials, including porcelain fused to metal as well as ceramic. Ceramic options look just like real teeth and are strong, durable and stain-resistant, so once they’ve been placed, they can last for years. There are different types too: all metal crowns, porcelain fused to metal crowns, and ceramic crowns. The patient needs to ask the dentist what filling material he wishes to use and what the advantages and disadvantages are of each different crown material.

How Does The Crown and Bridge Procedure Work?

The procedure runs over two stages.

First Appointment

In the first appointment, your dentist will remove any decayed or damaged tissue and replace the missing tooth with a filling material. If the dentist is holistic, this filling material will be safe and biocompatible. This is called “making the core”. Once the tooth is cleaned and filled, it will be prepared for the crown. This involves shaping the tooth and preparing the surfaces. How the tooth is prepared is very important to the longevity of the crown and the tooth. Not all dentists are equal in this skill and knowledge. Once the tooth has been prepared, an impression is made and sent to  master ceramist dental laboratory so the crown/bridge can be artistically and precisely created. Not all dental technicians are the same. You will be fitted with a temporary crown to protect the tooth in between appointments so don’t worry about missing teeth.

Second Appointment

Once the technician has done his magic making the crown or bridge, you will be called in for a second appointment where the crown’s or bridge’s fit will be checked for 10 criteria, before giving you the patient a mirror to check your satisfaction. All being perfect, the crown will be inserted on that day. 5% of crowns need to be sent back to the dental technician for adjustment and final fitting and bonding of the crown or bridge.

Caring For Your Crowns and Bridges

  • Anaesthetics will be used at both appointments. That means your teeth, tongue and lips will feel numb for several hours. During this time, you should avoid chewing and drinking hot fluids. Chewing food with a numb mouth can open you up to injury as you can’t sense sharpness or heat.
  • Rarely, the provisional crown can fall off. Is this happens, don’t just wait it out. You need to keep the provisional and visit your dentist so it can be re-cemented. Keeping the provisional in place is essential in creating the perfect fit for the final restoration.
  • Some sensitivity to hot, cold and pressure is normal after both appointments. Your gum will also feel sensitive. To reduce pain and swelling use warm salt water mouthwashes. Just dissolve a teaspoon of sea salt in warm water for the perfect solution. You can also use medication if the pain becomes problematic. Nurofen and Panadol taken together are best western pain relief. Arnica is a natural alternative.
  • In between appointments, avoid sticky foods like gum and lollies. You should also avoid chewing on the temporary crowns and bridges especially with hard foods. If you must indulge, use the other side of your mouth.
  • Keeping up your at-home dental regime is essential. You need to brush and floss as usually and ensure you keep the provisional free of any debris and bacteria. When flossing the provisional, remove the floss from the side to avoid stripping away the provisional. Your dentist may say do not floss the temporary crown or bridge.

Making Your Crowns and Bridges Last

You need to think of your crown or bridges as part of your mouth. That means brushing, flossing and a good diet are absolutely essential. Your teeth and gums need wholesome, nutritious food to survive and your dental crowns and bridges will only be as healthy as the supporting structure is. Your decay potential is not reduced by having crowns or bridges, so please protect your investment by brushing, flossing and mouthwash each day, and attending 6 monthly active maintenance professional cleaning appointments.

Brushing twice a day is a non-negotiable, but you need to use the proper technique. That means holding the brush at a 45-degree angle and using circular motions to brush all the way up to and under the gum line. Flossing is essential, and you should wrap the length in a c-shape around each tooth and use a gentle sawing motion to clean all the way under the gum line.

Last, but not least, you need to be visiting your dentist at least once every six months. This allows your dentist to engage in active maintenance. This maintenance consists of thorough check-ups as well as professional cleans that remove plaque and tartar to protect your current installations and prevent you from needing any new ones in the future. This check-up will also allow your dentist to check the progress of the crown and make any minor adjustments before a major overhaul is required.

If you would like more information or to book an appointment, please contact us.

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