Treatment: Crowns and Replacement Teeth

If a tooth is damaged but the root and main body of the tooth are healthy, a crown can be used to restore the tooth. A crown is a tooth-shaped cap that covers the whole of the natural tooth. It reinforces and protects the tooth and can be coloured to match the surrounding teeth. If one or more teeth are missing, there are various types of artificial teeth that may be used to replace them. The type used depends on the number of teeth lost and the individual’s oral health.


Up to two or three visits to your dentist may be necessary for a crown to be fitted. White porcelain is usually used for crowns at the front of the mouth. Materials used for crowns at the back of the mouth include reinforced porcelain, composite, and various metal alloys.

Fitting a crown

The tooth is shaped and an impression of it is taken. A temporary crown is made to fit over the shaped tooth while a permanent crown is made. The permanent crown is then cemented into place.

Replacement teeth

If one or more teeth have to be extracted, or if they are lost, they can be replaced by one of three different types of artificial teeth: a bridge, a dental implant, or dentures. Bridges and dental implants are permanent and fixed and are used to replace only one or two teeth at a time. Dentures can be removed and are used when many teeth need to be replaced.


A bridge is a permanent fixture used to replace one or two teeth. The teeth beside the gap (abutments) are crowned to support the artificial tooth (pontic).


A denture can be removed and may replace any number of teeth. Full dentures stay in place by the baseplate resting on the gum ridges; partial dentures may be clasped to remaining natural teeth.


An implant is a permanent method of replacing a single tooth. A hole is drilled in the jaw at the site of the missing tooth, and an implant, usually titanium, is placed into the hole. The implant must heal for 4–6 months before an artificial tooth is attached to the top of the implant.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

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