Dental crowns and bridges are two types of fixed dental prosthetic devices used to replace missing teeth. Unlike dentures, which are removable and can be taken out to clean daily, crowns and bridges are cemented onto existing teeth, or onto implants.
A crown is also known as a “cap” because it completely covers a damaged tooth. It is used to:
Crowns can be made of porcelain or ceramic, which can both be matched to the color of the natural teeth, as well as gold and metal alloys and acrylic. Alloys are generally stronger than porcelain, but due to their appearance, they are more often recommended for treatment on the back teeth. Porcelain bonded to metal offers both strength and aesthetics.
Dental bridges are used when more than one tooth is missing in one area. It consists of the prosthetic (called the pontic) spanning the gap and the abutment teeth which it is anchored onto. The abutments are usually dental crowns fixed onto the teeth neighboring the gap. As with crowns, bridges can be made of different materials, such as porcelain or ceramic. Your dentist can help you choose the right material for you, depending on the location of the missing teeth, its function, aesthetic considerations, and cost.
To place a dental bridge, the abutment teeth must first be prepared to receive dental crowns following the procedure above. An impression will then be taken of the prepared teeth and gap. The completed bridge will be cemented onto the prepared teeth when it returns from the dental lab and adjustments can be made as necessary to achieve the right fit.
With proper care, crowns and bridges can last a lifetime, but they can be replaced if necessary.