Cosmetic dentistry and dental prostheses have come a long way in the last several decades. Gone are the days of cumbersome dentures–the implants and prosthetics of today are easier to use, simpler to care for, and much less intrusive. Two of the more common are dental crowns and dental bridges. While these have both been around for a long time, they’ve improved greatly in the last 40 years as well. While dental crowns and dental bridges are intended to accomplish similar tasks, they differ in application. So which one is right for you?
What are Dental Bridges and Dental Crowns?
Let’s start by explaining what both dental bridges and dental crowns are and what they do. While they’re both kinds of dental prosthetics, there are some key differences between them.
A dental bridge is a dental prosthetic designed to replace one or more missing or lost teeth. Your dentist will craft artificial teeth to match your natural teeth and fit in the space between them and then anchor that implant to the natural teeth on either side. This is where the name comes from: the implant is effectively a bridge between your natural teeth. Dental bridges have a number of advantages: they replace several teeth at once, they quickly restore function to the teeth, and they keep existing teeth from shifting in your mouth. They’re often relatively inexpensive compared to some other kinds of dental prostheses, and most insurance covers them.
Dental crowns work a bit differently. As the name might suggest, a dental crown is a durable cap put on top of an existing natural tooth to protect it from further damage. This is generally done when the natural tooth has become seriously chipped or cracked, or when a large cavity necessitates the removal of a great deal of enamel. Dental crowns are fairly easy to install, prevent further damage to the tooth, and last a long time. Like dental bridges, they’re generally covered by most insurance and almost all dentists can install them.
Which is Right for You?
So which is right for you, dental bridges or dental crowns? While your dentist will be able to best answer this question because they know your particular situation, in general, the answer depends on the kind of damage that needs to be repaired. For an individual tooth that has been cracked, chipped, or otherwise weakened, a dental crown may be the best answer. If more than one tooth is missing or needs to be removed, the resulting space is probably best addressed by a dental bridge or some other similar prosthetic or implant.
In order to determine which one is right for you, your dentist will likely perform a full exam, including some x-rays. When they know more, they’ll explain the procedure and how it will be done. In either case, after the new prosthetic is in place it’s best to care for them via regular brushing and flossing, just as with a natural tooth.