Crowns and bridges are types of dental restorations that are commonly used by dentists all over the world. They can help with many different types of dental issues arising from missing or damaged teeth.
Generally speaking, crowns are used to strengthen teeth, while bridges are used to replace them. Even though they are two very different devices, they tend to be mentioned together since they’re often used together.
If your dentist has mentioned that you might need a crown or a bridge, it can help to understand just what they are and how they work. Here’s a little information on each one to get you started.
Crowns: what they are and when they’re used
A crown is a custom-made cap that sits on top of your existing natural tooth, and it can serve a number of purposes.
Usually, a crown is there to strengthen a tooth that has been weakened. For example, your tooth may be cracked or chipped, or it may have been weakened after a root canal. Other times, a crown is used to correct the appearance of a natural tooth, such as when a tooth is badly discoloured or is misshapen. In many cases, a crown will serve both of those purposes: it will repair the tooth’s functionality while also improving its appearance.
Depending on the location of the tooth in the mouth, a crown is usually made from either ceramic or gold. Ceramic is a popular choice for teeth you can see when you smile and speak, as it is made to match the colour of your natural teeth. Typically, gold is used on the less-visible back teeth that do the heavy lifting when it comes to chewing, as gold tends to be a stronger and more durable material. Your dentist will advise you on the best option and will talk about the pros and cons of each one.
In other cases, crowns are required purely to support a bridge.
Bridges: what they are and how they relate to crowns
A bridge is also custom-made, but this time it’s a whole prosthetic tooth that can fill the gap caused by a missing tooth.
While there are other options for tooth replacement (dental implants* and dentures), bridges are often a popular choice as they offer a lasting solution without an invasive procedure. For some, bridges are the only option due to a lack of bone strength that would be required for an implant.
A bridge works by being supported by a crown on either side, as the crowns help to anchor the bridge and strengthen the natural teeth for this adjustment. If you don’t have two natural teeth on each side of the gap, you may be able to receive two dental implants instead and get a bridge between the two.
Looking after crowns and bridges
Crowns and bridges are both considered fixed solutions for damaged or missing teeth. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll last forever but, with proper care, they can often last for more than a decade. Eventually, they may wear down or chip with use, in which case you will need to have them replaced.
In order to ensure the longest possible lifespan for your crown or bridge, you’ll need to care for it in the same way you do your natural teeth. This includes brushing twice per day and flossing at least once per day. Take extra care to floss around your crown to help avoid decay where the crown and the tooth join. A healthy, low-sugar diet will help lower your risk of decay or damage, and routine visits to your dentist will ensure a professional has the chance to inspect the condition of the crown and/or bridge regularly.
Should you have any other questions on crowns or bridges at all, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
* Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding with a surgical or invasive procedure, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.