Crowns and Bridges

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Crowns

A crown is a ‘cap’ that fits over a tooth. It provides the tooth with strength and can improve its appearance, shape or alignment.

When might you need to require a crown?

There are multiple indications for crowns. Some of the common ones include:

  • To strengthen a tooth after it has had root canal treatment
  • Trauma – to restore broken teeth
  • To strengthen teeth with very large fillings
  • To improve the appearance of discoloured teeth or to improve the shape of teeth
  • As part of a bridge (see below)
  • On top of an implant.

How long should a crown last?

The length of time that you’re crown lasts is a result of how well you look after it. Depending on the material used for the crown, your dentist will be able to advise the length of time it’s expected to last. In most cases they will last for over 10 years.

What can I claim for if my dental crown goes wrong?

Crowns, like any other form of cosmetic dental treatment, come with risks attached. These can include:

  • Poorly shaped crowns resulting in pain as well as issues with biting and chewing
  • Ill-fitting crowns that are difficult to clean, resulting in gum disease and tooth decay
  • Crowns falling off.

The Dental Law Partnership handles dental negligence claims that deal with the failure of crowns due to:

  • A lack of informed consent
  • The dentist’s failure to advise of alternative treatments
  • Failure to treat decay before placing a crown
  • Failure to check the health of the tooth before placing a crown
  • The dentist’s failure to assess the shape of the crowns resulting in pain and other problems
  • The dentist’s failure to assess the fit and aesthetics of the crowns, resulting in poor dental hygiene, tooth decay and gum disease.

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Dental Bridges

A bridge is used as a fixed solution to replace a missing tooth or teeth. They are made up of abutments (the teeth used as anchors for the missing tooth/teeth) and pontics (the replacement teeth that are attached to the abutments). A bridge is often used as an alternative to dentures when there are only a few missing teeth, or there are a sufficient number of healthy teeth to act as abutments to support the bridge.

How are bridges made?

  1. Your dentist may take an x-ray prior to commencing treatment. They will assess various factors to determine the most appropriate design and material of your bridge.
  2. The tooth (or teeth) will need to be reduced in size (‘prepared’) so that the bridge can fit over it. This is usually done under local anaesthetic. Your dentist will take an impression of the preparation which is sent to a dental laboratory.
  3. The laboratory will then make your bridge. Your dentist will have specified the material, design and colour of the restoration.
  4. The bridge is then fitted in your mouth – only once the dentist is confident that the fit, shape, shade and bite are correct. If these are not checked before fitting, there are several possible complications.
    Adhesive bridges are also an option – this procedure requires limited drilling as they are bonded to the back of the supporting teeth.

When might you require a bridge?

A bridge would be suggested if you have missing teeth that directly affect your smile or appearance. Additionally, if your teeth begin to strain at either side of the missing tooth, this might have an impact on your bite. A bridge would also be required if your speech or face shape is affected by the missing tooth.

How long should a bridge last?

If you maintain a high level of care for your bridge, it could last around 10-15 years. Good dental hygiene such as effective brushing and flossing, along with diet and eating habits will all have contribute to how long your dental bridge will last.

What can I claim for if my dental bridge goes wrong?

As with any complex dental treatment there are risks involved and the outcome can very much depend upon the skill and experience of your particular dentist. Some issues that may lead to premature loss of the crown/bridge include:

  • Poor oral hygiene – this can lead to decay and gum disease
  • Poorly designed and/or fitting bridge – this can make effective cleaning very difficult, possibly leading to decay and gum disease
  • The bridge may repeatedly become loose or come off. This is commonly caused by a poorly fitting restoration and/or an incorrect bite
  • Failure of the bridge due to incorrect assessment of dental health.

Your dentist has a duty of care to ensure all procedures conform to strict industry standards. In addition, they should make sure that you do not suffer from any unnecessary discomfort or pain during and after the procedure. Furthermore they should not cause any further damage to your teeth, jaw or gums.

The Dental Law Partnership deals with cases where problems have arisen from dental bridges due to:

  • The dentist not gaining informed consent
  • The dentist not advising of alternative treatments such as dentures
  • Damage to teeth from poor fitting bridges
  • Tooth decay caused by ill-fitting bridges
  • Poor appearance of the bridge
  • The dentist providing an inadequate assessment of the patient’s dental health before proceeding.

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