Everything You Need to Know about Dental Crowns and Dental Bridges

Two options to replace missing or damaged teeth that can lead to a happier, healthier smile

October 26, 2023
Oral Health

Dental crowns and dental bridges are two ways that missing or damaged teeth can be repaired. While they are similar in some ways, there are some differences, and a lot of people don’t know the differences between the two are. That’s perfectly okay! That’s why we’re here. Keep reading to learn more about:

  • What Is a Dental Crown?
  • What Is a Dental Bridge?
  • The Process of Getting a Dental Crown/Dental Bridge
  • How to Care for Your Crowns and Bridges

What Is a Dental Crown?

Sometimes referred to as a “cap,” a dental crown completely covers (or caps) and restores a damaged tooth.

You might be wondering when exactly you might need a dental crown. Here are a few scenarios when a patient might need to get a crown:

  • Reconstruction of a tooth/teeth after a root canal
  • A tooth is broken and cannot receive any other solutions, like an overlay
  • Most of the middle of the tooth is missing
  • A tooth is fractured and would break if something was not done
  • A tooth is missing a cusp

This image shows the process of getting a dental crown. First, the dentist removes the damaged part of the tooth. Then, the crown is placed over the reshaped tooth. Finally, the replacement crown is cemented onto the tooth.
This diagram helps explain the three-step process of getting a dental crown. Image courtesy of Beachmere Dental.

There are many benefits to getting a dental crown. For one, a dental crown strengthens the damaged tooth/teeth while simultaneously improving its appearance and alignment. When placed over a dental implant, a crown can even be made to look like a real tooth.

Dental crowns are not like dentures; they are cemented perfectly onto your tooth, and only a dentist can remove one if the case would arise.

Crowns can be made from a variety of materials. While gold is the strongest, some people might not like the color and appearance. However, there is also ceramic and zirconia, which are both offered at Wakim, DDS.

What Is a Dental Bridge?

A dental bridge is a way to address missing teeth. Appropriately named, bridges “bridge” the gap between one tooth and another, which was created when a tooth fell out or was extracted.

You may be wondering, how do bridges work? Well, a bridge is attached to the teeth -- whether they are natural or dental implants -- on either side of the gap. Think of a bridge as three (or more, depending on the case) crowns that are connected. The replacement tooth, which fills the gap, is known as a pontic.

There are two missing teeth that will be replaced by pontics, the alternate teeth. They are attached via the two teeth on either side of the gaps.
To replace two gaps between teeth in this example, there are two pontics that are connected by attachments. Image courtesy of Rocklin Family Dental.

Like dental crowns, dental bridges are made from a variety of materials. Ceramic and zirconia are available for bridges as well as crowns, and we make all of our bridges in office. If a longer bridge is needed, it is manufactured in the lab and is available to be placed at a later date.

The Process of Getting a Dental Crown/Dental Bridge

Getting a crown or bridge placed usually requires two visits.

During the first visit, the dentist will actually remove a small portion of the tooth -- the damaged or cracked areas -- so that the crown or bridge will fit over it. When placing a dental bridge, the teeth on both sides of the gap will have to be prepped as such.

After that, the dentist takes an impression of the tooth/teeth. Between the first and second visits, temporary dental cement will be placed on the teeth in order to cover and protect them.

During the second visit, the dentist places the crown or bridge on the teeth. When placing crowns and fixed bridges, dentists will use a bonding adhesive; when placing removable bridges, dentists will use clips.

How to Care for Your Dental Crown/Dental Bridge

Crowns are permanently cemented onto your tooth, so you can chew, brush, and floss like normal once it’s completed!

When you brush a bridge, do it as if you didn’t even have one. Flossing, however, is a little different when you have a bridge. Using a floss threader is recommended, as it gets between the teeth and under the pontic, the replacement tooth.

Flossing when you have a dental bridge is a bit different than flossing without one. Make sure you floss properly using a floss threader to avoid any complications.
This diagram explains how to floss when you have a dental bridge. Image courtesy of Dear Doctor, Inc.

While crowns and bridges both can last a lifetime, sometimes they become loose or can even fall out. Brushing and flossing daily, visiting your dentist regularly, and avoiding hard foods can help ensure that you get the most out of your crown or bridge.

If you’ve been thinking about replacing your missing or damaged teeth, our crown and bridge experts at Wakim, DDS can certainly help you. Contact us or stop in today to see how we can help you regain your happy and healthy smile.

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