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Understanding the Differences Between Crowns and Bridges

Crowns or bridges? We get this question a lot from our patients who struggle with smile problems, and we understand why — making sense of all the dental treatments available can be frustrating. 

That’s why at Brightwork Family Dentistry, we’re dedicated to providing you with top-notch care and making sure you’re completely informed about all of your options. 

Today, Dr. Crowley and Dr. Iachini answer your questions about two popular and often misunderstood dental appliances: crowns and bridges. We’re taking a closer look at the key differences and helping you decide which is right for you. 

Comparing crowns and bridges

Crowns and bridges both have the same goal — to fix your smile. Though their mission is the same, they accomplish it very differently. Here’s an overview of both crowns and bridges. 

Crowns

Think of a crown as a porcelain cap for your teeth. A crown typically reinforces a weak tooth or improves the appearance of a partially missing tooth.

Our dentists use them to address problems with individual teeth, including:

We also use crowns to seal and protect your tooth after a root canal.

Before placing a crown on your tooth, we carefully shave your natural tooth down to create a solid base for the crown. Our dentists then take a mold of your prepared tooth and cover it with a temporary crown. 

The mold goes to a lab where specialists create your permanent crown. Advanced dental technology makes it possible for your crowns to match the shade of your natural teeth, ensuring that you’ll have a cohesive smile. 

Once the crown is ready — which can take a couple of weeks — you’ll come back to the office where our dentists remove the temporary crown and secure the permanent one. 

Caring for crowns can be as simple as keeping up a good oral hygiene routine, including careful brushing and daily flossing. Avoid bad habits like biting down on hard foods or ice or grinding your teeth to avoid cracking your crowns. 

With proper care and maintenance, your crowns can last anywhere from 5-15 years. You may have to replace them or have them repaired, especially if you experience trauma to your mouth. Our dentists check your crowns at your regular cleaning appointments to make sure they’re not cracked or damaged. 

Bridges

Where crowns reinforce and cover flaws in individual teeth, bridges are used to replace one or more missing teeth. 

They’re made of artificial teeth fixed in place on either side by crowns or implants. This combination of crowns and artificial teeth effectively closes — or bridges — the gaps in your smile.

To insert your dental bridge, we first prepare the abutment teeth on one or both sides of the gap for a crown. We then cement a false tooth to the crown or crowns creating a bridge. 

The crowns cover the abutment teeth, and the false tooth fits perfectly in the gap, leaving you with a seamless smile. 

Quickly replacing a missing tooth is essential because the gaps left behind can result in other dental issues, including:

There are four types of dental bridges. These include traditional, cantilever, Maryland, and implant-supported. 

We help you decide which is right for you, though traditional bridges, which are made of artificial teeth held in place by crowns and cemented onto abutment teeth on both sides of the gap, are the most common. 

Depending on your needs and other factors like the location of the gap, you may need a different bridge. For example, cantilever bridges only require only one abutment tooth, so they’re a great option if you only have one natural tooth for support. 

Maryland bridges employ a framework of supportive metal or porcelain attaches to the backs of the abutment teeth. That means they require less prep work because they don’t need crowns for support. 

Implant-supported bridges rely on dental implants as a foundation, rather than crowns or frameworks. That is considered the strongest of the four types of bridges, but it does require two procedures — one to embed the implants and a second to place the bridge. 

With proper dental hygiene and regular check-ups, your dental bridges can last upwards of 15 years, though most bridges need to be replaced around the five-year mark. 

If you'd like more information about your treatment options or would like to schedule an appointment with Dr. Crowley or Dr. Iachini, request an appointment online or over the phone today. 

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