Dental crowns and most bridges are both a fixed prosthetic device which is cemented onto either existing teeth or implants by a dentist or prosthodontist.

What is a crown?

A crown, as the name suggests, is a cover or cap that is applied onto a tooth. The crown is used in an effort to restore a damaged tooth back to its normal shape, size and function, as well as to make that tooth stronger.

Below are a few common reasons why a patient may need a crown:

  • Advanced decay
  • Wear, especially if you grind or clench your teeth (bruxism)
  • Have a missing tooth and need a bridge
  • Trauma to a tooth, such as a cracked or worn down and weakened tooth
  • Preservation of a tooth which has undergone a root canal
  • Improvement in the cosmetic look of the tooth; often times a discolored or poorly shaped tooth is further improved with a crown

If tooth has been affected by decay multiple times, and has been filled more than once, the overall structure of the tooth may become weakened. The material used to fill a tooth is flexible and strong, but has limits. Pressure or stress of normal biting and chewing may cause a very large filling to crack, which can lead to more dental issues.  In this case, in order to preserve the tooth and prevent the need for extraction, a crown may be recommended by your dentist.

To seat a crown, the dentist removes any existing fillings, cleans out every trace of decay, and sterilizes the area. After taking impressions of your teeth, a customized crown will be made, tested and adjusted for fit, and cemented snugly in place over your prepared tooth. Your tooth will be protected by a temporary crown while the permanent crown is being constructed.

What materials are used to make a crown?

There are different types of dental crowns which are made from various materials. Some examples of these materials include Metal alloys, ceramics, porcelain, composite resin and/or a combination of these materials. Each material or combination of materials used to create a crown is specific to the patients tooth condition in question, their oral hygiene habits and the other teeth adjacent to the one in question. Therefore, it is best to consult with your dentist on a customized crown selection for your specific and unique circumstances and needs. Additionally, the crown material is colored during the process of constructing it, in an effort to have the final crown color blend with your natural teeth.

When is a dental bridge needed?

A bridge is often recommended when you are missing one or more teeth. A gap in your teeth needs to be addressed to keep your mouth healthy. Over time, a missing tooth places extra pressure on the remaining teeth, which can lead to jaw pain and other issues. And, the remaining teeth will start to “drift” toward the gap left by the missing tooth. This means that the spacing between your teeth will become uneven. This may result in changes in your bite and difficulties eating and speaking, and you may want to fill the gap for cosmetic reasons as well.

What are the different types of dental bridges?

Removable dental bridges are also called partial dentures. These need to be removed and cleaned daily.  A permanent dental bridge is cemented into place, and often consists of a replacement tooth supported on either side by a dental crown.  A permanent dental bridge may also be supported by dental implants, this type of bridge is more common when several teeth are missing.