General Dentistry


A bridge is made by crowning the teeth on either side of a space and then joining the two crowns with a false tooth in the middle. This is made in a dental laboratory.

The bridge is cemented into place so it cannot be removed. A bridge usually takes 2 appointments to make, the first visit is to prepare the teeth, take impressions and a shade also to fit a temporary bridge, the second visit usually 2 weeks later is to have the bridge fitted.

A bridge is usually made of a precious metal coated in porcelain.

Cracked Teeth

A cracked tooth is a tooth that has become broken. Many things can cause a tooth to crack such as tooth grinding, a tooth that has a large restoration can weaken the tooth, biting on something hard, a blow to the mouth or sudden changes in mouth temperature.

Sometimes it can be difficult to diagnose a cracked tooth but symptoms may be pain from time to time when you are eating, extreme temperatures especially cold, or you may be sensitive to sweetness but with no signs of decay.

There are many different options that you can choose from to repair a cracked tooth and your dentist will advise you accordingly. In some cases though the tooth may need to be extracted but an implant could be put in its place, it is important that you seek advice from your dentist at your earliest convenience.


In dental terms, the clinical crown of a tooth is that portion which is covered with tooth enamel and projects through the gums into the mouth (i.e. the part you can see, as compared to the root).

If a tooth has been extensively decayed, chipped or cracked, and cannot be restored to its proper form, function and esthetics another way, the dentist may recommend placement of a prosthetic crown. However, the descriptive term “prosthetic” is generally implied by the context, and not stated (e.g. “Mrs. Jones, your tooth needs a crown” implies the tooth needs a prosthetic crown). Crowns are most often made in a laboratory by a dental technician, and the process is very labor intensive.

Crowns for primary teeth differ significantly from crowns for permanent teeth, from the process of preparing the teeth to the fabrication of the crowns and treatment options.

Reputable dental laboratories generally furnish an alloy certificate with each crown, declaring the composition of metals used to fabricate the restoration. If you have doubts, ask your dentist for a copy of the alloy certificate.


Simple extraction (also called closed extraction) is a tooth removal procedure that can be accomplished using a traditional ‘elevator and forcep’ or ‘closed’ technique described on this page, as compared to those teeth whose removal requires surgical access. Generally, teeth that are candidates for simple extraction have straight roots and enough tooth structure extending through the gums to apply leverage and hold onto. ‘Simple’ implies that the tooth is not cut into pieces and no incision is made in the gum tissues to gain access to the tooth.

Extraction of a tooth is prescribed if the tooth is too extensively damaged from decay or trauma to be fixable, or if it is infected and the patient is not a candidate for endodontic (‘root canal’) treatment. It is also frequently prescribed when one or both dental arches is severely crowded, and straightening the teeth would require unnecessarily complex orthodontics with a compromised treatment outcome. Most commonly, either two or four bicuspid teeth are removed in such cases. Sometimes the decision to remove a tooth is based on cost, if the procedures required to restore it would involve inordinate expense. This is especially true if the prognosis for the tooth (i.e. likelihood of long-term success) is not good.

What is a veneer?

A veneer is a thin layer of porcelain made to fit over the front surface of a tooth, like a false fingernail fits over a nail. Sometimes a natural colour ‘composite’ material is used instead of porcelain.

When would I need a veneer?

Veneers can improve the colour, shape and position of your teeth. A precise shade of porcelain can be chosen to give the right colour to improve a single discoloured tooth or to lighten front teeth. A veneer can make a chipped tooth look intact again. The porcelain covers the whole of the front of the tooth with a thicker section replacing the broken part. Veneers can also be used to close small gaps, when orthodontics (braces) are not suitable. If one tooth is slightly out of position, a veneer can sometimes be fitted to bring it into line with the others.

What are the advantages of veneers?

Veneers make teeth look natural and healthy. Because they are very thin and are held in place by a special strong bond (rather like super-glue) very little preparation of the tooth is needed..

How are teeth prepared for a veneer?

Some of the shiny outer enamel surface of the tooth may be removed, to make sure that the veneer can be bonded permanently in place later. The amount of enamel removed is tiny and will be the same as the thickness of the veneer to be fitted, so that the tooth stays the same size. A local anaesthetic (injection) may be used to make sure that there is no discomfort, but often this is not necessary. Once the tooth has been prepared, the dentist will take an ‘impression’ (mould). This will be given to the dental technician, along with any other information needed to make the veneer. The colour of the surrounding teeth is matched on a shade guide to make sure that the veneer will look entirely natural.

How long will it take?

A veneer takes at least two visits: the first to prepare the tooth and to match the shade, and the second to fit it. Before bonding it in place, your dentist will show you the veneer on your tooth to make sure you are happy with it. Bonding a veneer in place is done with a special adhesive, which holds it firmly on the tooth.