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Crowns vs. Bridges: Finding the Smile for You

Sep 01, 2022
Crowns vs. Bridges: Finding the Smile for You
Crowns and bridges are two of the most common and versatile dental restorations available. Knowing what kind of tooth-related problems each one can address is key to determining which might be the best solution for your smile needs.

Crowns and bridges are versatile dental restorations designed to repair damaged teeth or fill gaps left by missing teeth. On top of returning your beautiful, natural-looking smile, a crown or bridge helps preserve proper bite alignment, maintain oral function, and protect oral health. 

Whether you’ve lost one or more teeth, or have a damaged tooth that makes it harder to eat, our expert team at Westchase Esthetic Family Dentistry offers a full scope of restorative dental solutions to meet every possible need. 

Read on as Dr. Juliet Bulnes-Newton and Dr. Sheriff Ali explain the ins and outs of crowns and bridges, including what kind of tooth-related problems each can address, and which might be the best restorative solution for your smile.

Basic facts about dental crowns

Each year, millions of people in the United States receive crowns to resolve problematic teeth, restore their smile, and safeguard their oral health. But what is a crown, and what can it fix?

A tooth-shaped cap

A dental crown is essentially a tooth-shaped cap designed to cover and protect a tooth that’s too weak, worn, or damaged to function properly. This custom artificial tooth can also be used as a cosmetic dental solution when you want to hide a misshapen or deeply discolored tooth.  

Ceramic crowns require two separate dental visits — one to prepare your natural tooth and take an impression to send to the dental lab, and another to fit the permanent crown to your tooth. You wear a temporary crown between visits.

Repair and restore 

A dental crown is often the best way to extend the life of an impaired tooth, or one that isn’t as strong or as healthy as it should be, but also isn’t so damaged that it needs to be extracted. 

A crown can restore normal strength, structure, function, and appearance to a tooth that:

  • Is severely chipped, cracked, or broken 
  • Is worn down from grinding (bruxism)
  • Has a cavity that’s too large to hold a filling
  • Has been weakened by root canal therapy

Crowns are also the dental restoration that we use to cap off, or finish, a dental implant

Basic facts about dental bridges

Every year, millions of Americans receive bridges to fill the gaps left by missing teeth, restore their smile, and preserve their oral health. So, how are bridges different from crowns?

Bridging the gap

A bridge restoration replaces one or more lost teeth to fill the gaps in your smile. It consists of two or more artificial teeth that form a single unit. When this row of custom teeth is fitted into place, it “bridges” the gap between the supporting abutment teeth on either side. A bridge can be constructed in two basic ways:

Tooth-supported bridge

As its name implies, a tooth-supported bridge uses your natural teeth as support anchors on each side of the restoration. This type of bridge consists of a crown on either end that fits over your natural teeth, with replacement teeth (pontics) in between. It can be a good option if you’re only missing one or two teeth.

Implant-supported bridge

This type of bridge is fixed in place and supported on either side by dental implants. Because an implant-supported bridge stimulates the underlying bone, it can be a better restorative solution for multiple missing teeth. 

Fixed vs. removable 

Tooth-supported and implant-supported bridges are fixed, meaning they’re permanently fitted into place, and only a dentist can remove them. Strong and durable, fixed bridges function just as well as your natural teeth and can last for many years with proper care. 

A removable bridge, on the other hand, attaches to the backside of your supporting teeth with small clasps and can be removed for cleaning. This type of bridge may be best for someone whose natural teeth aren’t strong enough to support a bridge, or someone who can’t undergo implant surgery.   

Should I get a crown or a bridge?

If you have a worn, damaged, or otherwise impaired tooth, a dental crown can restore its full shape, strength, function, and appearance. Likewise, if you have a gap in your smile due to a missing tooth, a bridge can fill that gap and restore your smile.  

Although tooth-supported bridges incorporate crowns as part of the restoration, there’s only one situation in which you might find yourself having to choose between a crown and a bridge. 

If you’re missing a tooth or you have a damaged tooth that needs to be extracted, you may choose to restore the empty space with a fixed bridge or a crown-capped implant. We can help you weigh the pros and cons of each option as they pertain to you, so you can find the best solution for your needs. 

To learn more about the restorative dental services available at Westchase Esthetic Family Dentistry in Tampa, Florida, call 813-940-4918 today, or use our easy online booking feature to schedule a consultation anytime.