Do your teeth need a crown or a bridge?

If you have a broken tooth, bad decay, or missing teeth, then your dentist may recommend a bridge or a crown. These are both common methods to restore teeth to their natural look and finish, and can be really effective.

What are they?

Both are essentially prosthetic – like artificial teeth that your dentist can use to permanently cover up damage, or to conceal gaps between teeth. Crowns are also known as dental caps, and a crown is placed over an existing tooth. A bridge is a little different in that it covers a gap left by a missing tooth, using the teeth on either side as support.

Types of crown

A crown can be made of different materials. Porcelain is the most common, with metal underneath. It is possible to have an all-porcelain or ceramic crown – but they aren’t as strong. However, these can look more natural as they don’t have the telltale metal line at the gum. You can even have a crown made of gold, though it won’t be so strong unless it’s an alloy with another metal.

Types of bridge

The most popular type of bridge is also the most traditional, called a fixed bridge. This is where a fake tooth – known as a pontic – is attached to two crowns. The fake tooth takes the place of the missing natural tooth, and the crowns in turn are attached to the teeth either side of the gap.

  • An implant-supported bridge is similar, but involves putting implants in the gum. So, if you have a large gap of more than one missing tooth, dental implants and bridges might work for you.
  • A cantilever bridge is used where only one tooth can provide support. It can’t always be used in the back of the mouth where your molars are, because it might not be able to cope with the bite force.
  • A Maryland bridge uses metal attachments and resin, instead of crowns, to secure the false tooth in place. This can be a good idea because it means there is less invasive work. However this type of bridge is only as strong as the attachments and resin holding it in place!

When are they needed?

If you have had a root canal, have a severely decayed tooth that can’t be filled any more, or a tooth that is broken or otherwise weak, then a crown may be the best option for you. A crown can also cover tooth damage such as serious discolouration. If you have a gap or have to have a tooth removed, and have other stronger teeth available, then your dentist may suggest a bridge as the best solution.

Both bridges and crowns can help improve daily life for those with missing teeth – improving bite, and the ability to eat, drink and talk. It’s also a good idea to fill a gap left by a missing tooth, because otherwise the rest of your teeth will move over time to fill that gap. That means they can become misaligned and cause other problems.

The procedure

If you need a crown, then your dentist will need to prepare the tooth underneath by removing enough enamel for the crown to fit on top. Your dentist will probably need to fit a temporary dental crown while the lab makes a permanent crown that fits your mouth exactly. This means at least two visits are needed. For bridges – it really depends on the type, but it’s generally at least two trips also.

How to take care of your crown or bridge

Make sure you keep your crown or bridge just as clean as the rest of your teeth. Brush carefully and floss often. You may also want to use inter-dental brushes, to keep all the little crevices spotless. And, visit your dentist every six months.


Contact Drs. Nicolas & ASP Clinic for more information and to book a consultation