Dental crowns and bridges are great solutions for people with one or more missing or damaged teeth. Both options utilize prosthetic devices to restore your smile. In the world of dentistry, a prosthetic is an item which, when used correctly, restores the natural appearance and function of your teeth and jaw. Dental prosthetics aren’t meant to alter a patient’s appearance, but rather to restore their smile to what it was before the damage took place. While dental crowns and bridges both share this same goal, determining which one is right for you depends on the situation with your teeth and the damage you’d like to restore. We’ll go over both options in more detail below.

Dental Crowns

Dental crowns are single-tooth prosthetics. Made of ceramic or porcelain in most cases, crowns are designed to look just like a normal tooth. And as their name suggests, they go on top of a damaged tooth to restore the tooth’s appearance and function. Typically, the crown is attached to an existing tooth’s surface using an adhesive.

If a tooth is damaged severely by a cavity to the point where a root canal and filling are no longer an option, a dental crown is the perfect solution to restore it to perfect health. They can also be attached to dental implants that have been damaged and need restoration. What dental crowns can’t do, however, is restore several damaged or missing teeth in a row. Scenarios like this are where bridges come in.

Dental Bridges

Also known as “partial dentures,” dental bridges are designed to fill in a gap caused by a missing tooth or more than one adjacent missing teeth. Similar to their crown counterparts, bridges are prosthetic teeth usually made of porcelain or ceramic designed to blend in with their natural enamel neighbors. Also similar to crowns, bridges adhere to the surface of existing teeth or implants.

The unique advantage of bridges lies in how they can literally “bridge” a gap between teeth. They are essentially a string of crowns that attach to two existing teeth, recreating the look and function of the missing teeth in between. A good dental bridge will look and function exactly like natural, healthy teeth, and to this effect they are fully customized to match the teeth they’re replacing.

Choosing the Best Option

As you may have guessed, whether dental crowns or bridges are right for you depends on how many teeth you need restored. For a single tooth—whether it’s cracked, chipped, damaged by a cavity or any other reason—crowns are a perfect solution. They can even replace missing teeth if they’re fitted over a dental implant. For several damaged or missing teeth, on the other hand, dental bridges are the necessary solution.

In either case, your dentist will be able to determine if the damage to your teeth is enough to need a prosthetic replacement. A filling may be enough to restore your smile’s appearance and function. If not, rest easy knowing that modern prosthetics like dental crowns and bridges can restore your smile no matter the condition of your teeth.

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