Dental crown, dental bridge
Care and maintenance
Dental crowns and dental bridges are devices that can last a long time (10 to 15 years) if proper maintenance measures are regularly conducted.
The care for dental restorations is a continuing process that starts after they are permanently fixed and has to be performed on a daily basis.
It is the first and most important aspect of proper maintenance. The most sophisticated and expensive restorations will have a very short lifespan in the absence of an accurate and thorough oral hygiene.
What may happen in the absence of a proper oral hygiene ?
After every meal, dental plaqueDental plaque is a biofilm, usually a pale yellow, that develops naturally on the teeth formed by colonizing bacteria trying to attach themselves to the tooth's smooth surface. accumulates on the surface of teeth, especially near the gums. In the absence of an effective removal, dental plaque can produce a series of reactions that can affect natural teeth, the surrounding soft tissues and dental crowns or bridges as well :
First, the gums around dental crowns change color (turn red) and start to bleed. These are the first signs of an inflammatory condition called gingivitis.
If the condition progresses, the gums can retract (gingival recession), leaving the margin of the dental crown and sometimes part of the tooth's root naked. This produces a very unsightly image.
gingivitis around dental crowns
In later stages, bacteria from the dental plaque can penetrate under the dental crowns, dissolving the cement and causing irreversible damage to the dental tissues.
The process can lead to the inflammation of the dental pulp (a condition called pulpitis) or/and the inflammation of the periodontal tissues located around and under the tooth (periodontitis).
Moreover, the process can lead to the effective destruction of the tooth's structure. There are situations when spontaneous teeth fractures occur under old prosthetic restorations without any preliminary signs.
Some complications may still occur even if oral hygiene is properly conducted. A correct oral hygiene does not replace the need for periodical checkups. Regular dental visits should be conducted at least two times a year.
Why are regular checkups so important ?
Very often, the various complications that may occur after a restoration is permanently fixed are not accompanied by any signs or symptoms.
Therefore, patients might not notice most of these conditions ; the practitioner can only detect them after a careful examination.
Apart from that, during checkups, teeth and artificial restorations are professionally cleaned and dental plaque and tartar is removed.
Do not overload the restorations
!!!No prosthetic device, no matter how sophisticated and expensive, can come close to the strength and resistance of healthy natural teeth.
It is desirable not to overload the restorations or use them in an exaggerated manner during the chewing process. It is best to avoid biting on extremely hard pieces of food (peanuts, pistachio shells very hard bread crumbs, etc.)
Besides that, there are conditions that can be extremely harmful to both natural teeth and prosthetic devices. For example, bruxism is a condition that involves involuntary habitual grinding of the teeth, typically during sleep. In these situations, a sharp abrasion of the teeth is one of the visible signs (see picture).
It is advisable that patients contact the doctor as soon as they notice the first signs of such conditions. The treatment is more effective if started soon.
Report any discomfort
This is a very important aspect, which, unfortunately, many patients neglect.
What do we mean by "any discomfort" ?
- Toothaches of various levels and intensities
- Pain or discomfort when biting down on something
- The feeling that the restoration is "too high"
- Pain in the jaw muscles
- Pain in the TMJ jointThe temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint of the jaw between the mandible and temporal bone or unusual cracks in the joint.
- Swelling, bleeding or pain in the gums or the sign of gingival recession
- The fixed prosthesis becomes loose
- A foul smell or an abnormal taste appears
- The aesthetic of a dental restoration changes for various reasons (for example, the shade becomes darker)
- Any other unusual changes
It is best to report these changes as soon as they become noticeable. Many of these conditions can be treated much easier if reported in time.
On the other hand, the progression of these conditions may lead to various complications that are more difficult to treat; sometimes, the entire restoration will have to be removed and a new treatment plan (in most of the cases more expensive) devised.
Last review and update: November 2020