You’ve no doubt heard about crowns and bridges when it comes to improving your smile, but do you know which is the right option for you? The answer depends on several factors, from how soon you need the procedure to be completed to your medical history and finances. In this blog, we’ve outlined a few answers to the common questions surrounding dental crowns and bridges, and how to know which is the right option for your circumstances.
What’s the difference between crowns and bridges?
Crowns and most bridges are fixed prosthetics which, unlike dentures, can be removed to clean each day, are cemented to your teeth or implants and can only be removed by a dentist. They function in the same way as your real teeth in this regard.
Crowns are used to cover or ‘cap’ a damaged tooth and to improve the appearance of the tooth. They can be placed over the top of an implant to create a more tooth-like shape and can be matched to blend in with the rest of your natural teeth.
A dental bridge is used to fill the gap between teeth where you may have a missing tooth or teeth, functioning, as the name suggests, as a bridge between your teeth. When it comes to choosing between crowns and bridges, it depends on whether you want to improve the appearance of one tooth without relying on extraction or you want to replace one or several missing teeth by anchoring to your existing teeth.
How do crowns work?
A crown is essentially a false tooth which is typically porcelain or ceramic and can be custom-made to the specific requirements of the patient, including adapting the shape, colour and texture to match the rest of their teeth. Gold alloys are also used in some cases to improve the strength of the crown. If a tooth is chipped, broken or fractured, dentists will use a crown to add strength and improve the look of the tooth.
The process involves filing down the damaged tooth and reshaping it to a smaller size, including removing any tooth decay so that its structure is restored to support the crown. The crown is then placed on top and cemented into place, acting as a cap over the reshaped tooth.
How do bridges work?
Bridges are prosthetics that are used for patients with a missing tooth or several missing teeth. They are also made from porcelain which is fused to metal for added strength and durability. Dental bridges are false teeth that are fixed between two crowns and getting them fitted typically takes a couple of visits.
The teeth on each side of the bridge are prepared initially so that the crowns of the anchors can be fitted. Once the anchor teeth have been prepared, your dentist will make an impression of your mouth which is used to create a customised bridge for your teeth. In the meantime, you’ll be fitted with a temporary bridge to cover the gap and enable you to chew while you await your permanent dental bridge. After a couple of weeks, you’ll return to have the permanent bridge cemented into place.
What can crowns and bridges fix?
Crowns and bridges can be used to fix a number of dental issues, from broken or chipped teeth to missing teeth, restoring the appearance of your teeth and repairing the look of a fractured tooth. Depending on whether it’s one tooth or several that you’re having repaired or replaced will determine whether a crown or bridge is required.
How long will crowns and bridges last?
The good news is that both dental crowns and bridges will last you many years, but the length of time depends on several factors. Good oral hygiene is required to keep your teeth healthy and prevent issues from developing, as well as avoiding certain foods that can damage the crown or bridge, such as sticky foods which can cause decay. With proper care and regular dental visits, your crown or bridge can last anywhere from 5 to 15 years.
Crowns and bridges have individual purposes and choosing between them depends on your specific requirements. If you have a deteriorating tooth or you want to improve the look of a tooth, a crown is likely to be the best option. But if you have missing teeth, a dental bridge is the better choice. Your dentist can discuss the options available to you and advise you on the best treatment for your needs – contact the team at Dental Healthcare Practice for more information.