Dental Crowns vs. Dental Bridges: Which One Is Right For Me?

Do you have broken or missing teeth? Are you trying to decide whether you should repair damaged, existing teeth or replace them altogether? Understanding the pros and cons of things like a dental crown vs. dental bridge will help you feel more confident during your next dental consultation.

When to Choose a Dental Crown

Dental crowns are sometimes called “caps” because of how they fit over existing teeth. They provide a strong, protective shell that withstands normal chewing and biting force. 

Dental crowns are used to reinforce natural teeth with the following:

  • Large cracks
  • Severe enamel wear
  • Extensive tooth decay
  • Replacing a large filling (silver/amalgam)

Or for cosmetic dentistry results when you don’t qualify for a dental veneer because of structural damage to that tooth.

Our Camas dentists will also use dental crowns on top of dental implants if you’re replacing a missing tooth. Since implants act like natural teeth, their “artificial root” anchors the dental crown so that your restorative dentistry results look like a new tooth. 

When to Choose a Dental Bridge

Dental bridges look like 3 or 4 dental crowns lined up in a row. However, only the ends of the bridge fit over an existing tooth. The crowns in the middle are suspended in the open space created by your missing teeth. A bridge can replace more than one tooth, assuming it has strong teeth to support it on either end.

You can also use dental bridges on top of dental implants to replace three or four missing teeth at a time. This type of bridge design eliminates the need for removable partial dentures.

Bridges are only used when they have adequate support to hold them in place. If your natural tooth is too compromised by tooth decay or gum disease, it cannot support a fixed bridge.

The Treatment Process for Crowns and Bridges

Is the treatment process any different between dental bridges or dental crowns? Only when it comes to the number of teeth being prepped. 

Both crowns and bridges are created to fit over natural teeth. So those teeth are numbed, prepped to receive a restoration over them, and impressions taken for our lab. It takes about two weeks for the fixed restoration to be ready. Dr. Bharathi will fit you with a temporary false tooth to wear in the meantime.

Two dental visits are required. At the second appointment, we’ll remove your temporary and then permanently cement the crown or bridge into place.

During the design process, we’ll use a shade guide to ensure that the artificial tooth blends in with your adjacent teeth. That way, you can smile knowing that everything looks attractive. We’ll adjust each restoration for a natural shape with your gum line and smile so that it looks like each tooth belongs where it’s supposed to be.

Should You Get Dental Implants or a Dental Bridge?

If you have a missing tooth, you have two options: installing a dental bridge or placing a dental implant (with a fixed dental crown) in that space.

Depending on if the surrounding teeth are healthy, you may want to consider an implant and crown. Implants are non-invasive to adjacent teeth, so they’re preferred when you want to avoid altering the existing teeth on either side of your missing teeth. Any implants prevent unnecessary dental work on your existing teeth. 

However, if one or more teeth on the side of your missing one could benefit from protective dental crowns, a bridge is beneficial in two ways. First, it replaces your missing teeth. Second, it reinforces and protects the partially damaged tooth next to your missing teeth. Since either end of a dental bridge acts as a protective crown, our Camas dentists may recommend dental bridges to reinforce your remaining teeth.

Bridges can only replace a few teeth at a time. So, if you have multiple missing teeth or need to restore your entire smile, dental implants may be the most logical choice. 

Ultimately, deciding between a crown, bridge, or dental implant is a personal decision you’ll want to discuss with one of our dentists.

Is Home Care Any Different for These Restorations? 

What can you expect after restoring broken or missing teeth? Do you need to care for restorative dentistry treatments any differently from one to the next? Other than slightly modifying your flossing routine, no. A good oral hygiene routine is all you’ll need.

Most importantly, make sure you’re flossing around the entire crown or bridge every single day. For bridges, you’ll need a floss threader to weave the floss underneath the artificial tooth. Or you can use a water flosser instead. If your crown or bridge is attached to dental implants, make sure you’re flossing. Although an implant cannot develop decay, it’s still susceptible to periodontal disease, and the gums need to stay healthy. 

What are Crowns and Bridges Made From?

Most modern crowns and bridges are crafted from tooth-colored materials like ceramic, porcelain, or zirconia. Occasionally precious metals like gold may be used, particularly on back teeth that are heavy load-bearing and not very visible. Porcelain fused to metal crowns are also used today.

Thanks to better and more durable materials on the market, our prosthetic devices are attractive and blend in with your natural smile. 

See a Good Dentist

The best dentist will help you plan a restorative dentistry care plan that is beneficial for your overall oral health. That way, you can make an informed decision about the best treatments as it fits your preferences and budget. For example, you might qualify for a dental crown and implant or a bridge but want one more than the other. Our experienced dentists can answer any questions that you have as it relates to your circumstances so that you feel confident about your decision moving forward.

Restoring your broken or missing teeth will help you protect your other teeth in the meantime. Not to mention they provide cosmetic dentistry benefits. Contact Radiance Dental in Camas, WA, today to reserve your next dental exam. 

You May Also Like…