This Dental Specialist Shares A Few Ways To Replace Missing Or Damaged Teeth

Portrait of Dr Steven Soo
Dr Steven Soo

March 22nd, 2019· 5 min read

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I just want to be prepared...

It is common for people in Singapore to experience issues related to their chompers.

Whether you have a gap in between your teeth, a chipped tooth, or imminent decay, there are plenty of things that can go wrong if you leave such problems to fester.

Fortunately, the world we live in today offers many solutions that you can choose from.

Dr Steven Soo is a specialist in prosthodontics (tooth replacement and cosmetic dentistry). He was featured on Human Sessions where he answered questions from curious readers on crowns, bridges, veneers, and the best ways to maintain them.

Here are some things that you might want to pay attention to if you are looking to replace missing teeth, and keep them looking well even into old age.

What are the main differences between crowns, bridges, and veneers?

man's teeth smiling

This is probably a question that's on a lot of our minds. Most of us might not even know the difference.

Crowns cover the whole tooth and strengthen and improve appearance (colour and shape).

Bridges replace missing teeth and often consist of several crowns linked together.

Veneers cover only the front of the tooth and improve appearance (and occasionally strength).[1]

In Singapore, a dental crown can cost between $700 to $3000

old lady smiling with teeth showing

Costs vary widely due to the many factors involved. These depend on where and how you get it done. Material, laboratory costs, clinicians, and clinical time spent are all taken into consideration before costs are stated.

Fees for crowns from a prosthodontist will naturally be higher to reflect the expertise and experience of the specialist.

Dental conditions and requirements differ greatly from patient to patient, so it's pretty difficult to compare fees.

Sorry but no, Medisave can't usually be claimed for crowns, veneers, or bridges

man's teeth smiling
Medisave is reserved for certain surgical procedures only.

Crowns, veneers, and dental bridges aren't considered surgeries nor do they involve any surgical processes (unfortunately).

Therefore, patients won't be able to use Medisave.

The dental crown process is generally a two-visit procedure.

two teeth on a tabletop

The first visit takes about one hour to prepare the tooth and make an impression. You will be given some local anaesthesia to numb the tooth and gum tissue surrounding it. The natural tooth is trimmed and then an impression is taken either with a hand-held scanner or an impression tray.

A temporary crown is provided to protect the tooth on this same visit.

Finally, the crown will be cemented in place on the second visit.

A dental bridge process, on the other hand, involves a three-step procedure

a dental bridge with three teeth

First, a clinical examination will be done to assess your dental condition. Secondly, a radiographic examination is performed to check the condition of the underlying bone or any other conditions not seen by the clinical examination. Thirdly, a consultation is carried out to explain the dental issues that need to be fixed.

Once everything is decided, it's possible to start the bridging process at that very same visit if there are no other serious dental concerns.

Crowns can last up to about 10 years if maintained well

four teeth in a row

As long as you take care of your crowns and don't abuse them, they can last for approximately 10 years. Yes, they are subject to some wear and tear over time and will require replacement eventually but until then, it is your job to make sure that they last as long as possible.

There are some cases where dental crown replacements will be necessary

dental crowns in a gloved hand

It’s time to go back to your dentist or dental specialist if any of these scenarios happen:

  • Cracked or broken crown
  • Excessive wear resulting in holes (perforation) found on the crown
  • Recurrent tooth decay underneath the crown
  • Gum recession resulting in the edge of the crown being visible (example: dark line)

Treat your dental bridge/crown as if it were your natural tooth

woman brushing teeth
Wondering about the best ways to maintain your dental bridge or crown?

For one, treat it as if it were your natural tooth by brushing twice a day for at least two minutes and flossing at least once a day. Also, go for a dental visit at least twice a year.

On top of this, you want to avoid biting very hard things, like ice, nuts, dried fruit, or crusty bread. This includes opening a bottle or cracking seafood open with your crown.

Dental specialists look at some factors before deciding on the type of dental bridge

man's teeth smiling

There are a couple of things dental specialists usually look out for before suggesting a type of dental bridge for you. These factors include the number of teeth to be replaced, the condition of adjacent teeth, the age of a patient, and the position of the missing tooth.

A prosthodontist specialises in dental bridges and other implants

doctor's white coat and stethoscope

While many general dentists provide bridge and implant treatment, a prosthodontist's training focuses specifically on the replacement of teeth using crowns or bridges, dentures, and dental implants. In Singapore, an additional three to four years of training is required in order to be recognised as a prosthodontist.

Veneers don't usually damage your real teeth but they may not be totally reversible

woman smiling in the jungle while doing adventure sports

Veneers are considered minimally invasive as they do not involve much preparation of the teeth. However, veneers are not totally reversible.

In fact, veneers are considered permanent because the outer layer of your enamel needs to be removed to give way to the veneers. This changes the original structure of your teeth.

Watch out for hard food after getting veneers

hard chocolate

Don't reach for your favourite nutty chocolates just yet…

Porcelain veneers can (by nature of their material) chip and break when they encounter hard food. For longer lasting veneers, treat them gently and practice good oral hygiene.

Teeth-related issues are a common occurrence that many adults experience at least once in their lifetimes. Do not stress yourself out too much if a tooth chips, or a hole is uncovered. Dental implants are your friends, so take good care of them for dental function that lasts!

Would you like to ask any related health questions?

You can Ask A Doctor right away, or view the complete list of Human Sessions.

I hope that you've found this guide useful, and perhaps gained more insight into the application process. Most of the admissions-related information (admin and logistics wise) can be found on the official NUS Faculty of Dentistry website.

To help yourself out, you should take note of what people look for when they look for a dentist.

This article was written by Dr Steven Soo and published on Wednesday, 25 January 2017. Human medically reviewed the article on Wednesday, 25 January 2017. The last update was made on Friday, 18 September 2020.

Disclaimer: Opinions belong to the author and not to the platform.

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