Good oral hygiene is essential for healthy teeth, but our teeth are far gone, and oral care is no longer enough in some cases. In cases where decay or trauma damages teeth, dentists can restore those using artificial restorations.

Crowns and bridges are artificial restorations used to restore your teeth if your teeth are injured or damaged beyond repair. Crowns cover the outside of your tooth above the gum line, while dental bridges restore function to your teeth and fill the gaps within your teeth. The goal of crown and bridges is to restore your natural smile and the function of your teeth. They are ideal for repairing weak, cracked, decayed, or severely discolored teeth. Washington Dental in Carson, CA, helps you get your dental crowns and bridges to help you regain your natural smile.

What are Dental Crowns

A dental crown or cap is a dental restoration that covers your tooth or dental implant.  Some crowns cover the entire tooth, while others, such as onlays, cover a portion of your tooth. Dental crowns cover a tooth damaged by a large cavity. These dental restorations are essential in improving the health of your teeth.

Other functions of dental crowns include:

  • Replacing failed crowns
  • Protecting weak teeth from further damage
  • Restoring teeth that have undergone endodontic treatment such as root canals
  • Restore the form, function, and aesthetics of broken, worn, or fractured teeth
  • Improving the appearance of unsightly teeth that cannot benefit from other cosmetic and restorative dental procedures
  • Maintaining the structural stability of teeth.
  • Restoring the visible portion of a dental implant

Dentists sometimes use dental crowns for children, although this is not common as children have temporary teeth that eventually fall out to make way for permanent teeth. However, there are rare instances where a dentist will recommend a crown for a child, such as:

  • To protect decayed teeth that are too damaged to support a dental filling
  • To protect teeth that are at higher risk of decay, especially if the child has problems maintaining good oral hygiene

In most cases, dentists will recommend stainless steel dental crowns for children as the covered tooth will eventually fall out.

Dental crowns come in many materials fabricated indirectly before fitting them onto the teeth. The dentist usually takes a dental impression of your tooth and fabricates the crown outside the mouth. The dentist will install the crown in another appointment. Meanwhile, the dentist will place a temporary crown that stays in your mouth for a short time. The dentist will attach the temporary crown using a removable adhesive, unlike the one used for a permanent crown.

In some cases, a dentist can place a dental crown within the same day by formulating a crown using computer-aided design or computer-aided manufacturing.

Crowns come in different materials such as porcelain, gold, ceramic, zirconia, composite resin, or a combination of these materials.

Stainless steel dental crowns are a short-term solution used on permanent teeth. Dental crowns protect a dental filling or serve as a temporary solution until the dentist fits in the permanent crown. Stainless steel crowns are also popular for milk teeth as they fit directly on the tooth and come off as the milk teeth sheds. Stainless steel crowns are cheaper than other versions and can be placed in one visit.

Crowns could also be made of metal, such as platinum, gold, and metal alloys such as nickel-chromium and cobalt-chromium alloys. Metal crowns are stronger and can withstand a lot of chewing and biting forces before they wear down. Metal dental crowns can last a long time, but they are not as aesthetically pleasing. However, for molars or teeth that are out of view, metal crowns offer the strength and durability to support the heavy grinding and chewing functions that molars handle.

Some crowns are made from porcelain-to-metal crowns. These crowns contain a combination of metal and porcelain. They are ideal for front teeth as they are customizable to match your teeth' color but are likely to cause damage to the nearby teeth. The porcelain part of the crown may chip, wear, or break off from the metallic part.

Another common material used for dental crowns is resin. Resin crowns are the least durable but also the least expensive of all dental crown materials.

The material the dentist uses depends on:

  • The tooth’s location
  • The amount of tooth that shows when you smile
  • The position of your gum tissue
  • The color of the surrounding teeth
  • Your personal preferences

For traditional crowns, the dentist will examine and prepare the tooth through X-rays, cleaning, and dental filling procedures. 

The dentist will also take a mold of your tooth after preparing it. You will also receive a temporary dental crown to hold the place of the permanent crown.

The dentist will send the mold to a laboratory to have the crown made. You will return after some time to have the permanent crown cemented to your tooth.

For same-day procedures, the dentist takes digital photographs of your mouth. These photographs guide the fabrication of the dental crown, which takes between one and two hours. The dentist will cement the crown into place as soon as they complete fabricating it. The process usually takes up to four hours to complete.

Once you have the dental crown in place, you have to take measures to ensure your crown lasts as long as possible. Some of the tips for caring for your dental crown include:

  • Brush and floss your teeth as you would and rinse off with an antibacterial mouthwash
  • Use a night guard at night to prevent the grinding of teeth during sleep. Grinding teeth can wear down and damage your crown and underlying teeth.
  • Avoid habits such as chewing your nails or ice as they damage dental crowns.
  • Avoid chewing hard and sticky foods.
  • Follow all the hygiene instructions your dentist gives you
  • Visit your dentist as soon as you notice any signs of damage to your crown.

While dental crowns help restore damaged teeth for most people, they sometimes develop issues and complications such as:

  • Sensitivity and discomfort: most patients will experience some discomfort before and after the installation of the crown. You might also experience sensitivity to hot and cold as your teeth still have nerve tissues beneath the crown. If you are worried about dental sensitivity, the dentist may recommend a toothpaste for sensitive teeth. Sensitivity when chewing or biting food could indicate an incorrectly installed crown; therefore, notify your dentist if your teeth are sensitive during chewing.
  • Chipped crown. Like teeth, dental crowns sometimes chip, especially those made from all-porcelain or all resin. Visit the dentist as soon as you notice a chipped crown to prevent bacteria from seeping under the crown and damaging your teeth. Depending on the extent of the damage to the crown, the dentist could do a full replacement or fill the crack with a composite resin.
  • Loose crown. A crown can loosen when the bonding material washes away. As with chipping, a loose crown allows bacteria to seep into your teeth, which could cause decay and infection. A loose crown could loosen to the point of falling off, especially if you take no steps to have it corrected. In some cases, the crown falls off due to damage to the internal structure of the abutment teeth.
  • In rare cases, you might develop an allergic reaction to the dental crown, especially metallic crowns.

Where you have multiple missing teeth, the dentist could opt for a dental bridge instead of crowns.

What are Dental Bridges

Dental bridges are fixed tooth restorations used to fill gaps left by one or more missing teeth. Dental bridges restore the tooth to its full function and do not require constant removal for cleaning. They are also aesthetic and durable, making them an ideal dental replacement.

Dentists use dental bridges for different functions, including:

  • Restoring your natural smile and confidence
  • To restore your chewing functions
  • To improve your bite
  • To maintain the shape of your face
  • To prevent the teeth in your mouth from moving out of their positions due to the missing teeth.
  • To correct and distribute your normal bite force that was altered by the missing teeth.
  • To close gaps between teeth

Dental bridges have many components, including:

  • A fixed bridge is attached to natural teeth to replace the missing teeth
  • An abutment is a natural tooth or implant supporting and retaining a dental bridge
  • A retainer is attached to the abutment to help in the retention of the dental bridge
  • A pontic is an artificial tooth that replaces the natural tooth
  • A unit consists of the pontics and abutments

There are different types of dental bridges, which include:

  1. Traditional Bridges

Traditional bridges replace missing teeth where there are healthy teeth on both sides of the missing tooth. This type of bridge uses healthy teeth as the abutment to support the dental bridge. The dentist has to reshape the healthy teeth so they can serve as abutments to hold the bridge.

Traditional bridges are the most common dental bridges and the most popular due to their longevity and strength. However, the need to reshape the teeth is the major downside to these bridges as they compromise the strength of the reshaped healthy tooth. Dentists sometimes avoid using healthy teeth with traditional bridges by placing an implant on either side of the gap to act as the abutments.

  1. Cantilever Bridges

Cantilever bridges are the best choice when there are no healthy teeth on one side of the missing tooth. This type of bridge is ideal where the missing tooth is next to the front tooth. Cantilever bridges are not the best for missing teeth in the back of the mouth due to the pressure chewing forces exert.

Some of the reasons a dentist will use a cantilever bridge include:

  • They are more conservative as they only require one abutment
  • They do not require destructive parallel preparations
  • They are the best for front teeth
  • They are easier to keep clean for patients
  1. Adhesive Bridge (Maryland Bridge)

Dentists use a Maryland bridge or resin-bonded bridge where the front teeth are missing. The dentist will fix the pontic to the adjacent healthy teeth using metal or porcelain wings. Maryland bridges are more conservative than traditional bridges, as they do not require the dentist to reshape your healthy teeth.

  1. Implant-Supported Bridges

Implants have grown in popularity in recent years for their strength, stability, and durability. Dentists now use them for different dental restorations, including supporting dentures, bridges and replacing individual missing teeth.

Implant-supported bridges are supported by implants on either side of the gap. They do not interfere with your healthy teeth, but you will need surgery to place the implant. They also typically take a longer time to place, but they offer strength and support.

Dental implants are ideal for people with sufficient bone tissue to support the implant and reduce the chances of implant failure.

Placing dental bridges takes about two visits, depending on the type of bridge. For implant-supported bridges, the procedure takes several weeks to months as the dentist has to first place the implant before placing the dental bridge.

For tooth-supported dental bridges, the dentist will prepare the abutment teeth during the first visit. The preparation process includes re-contouring the tooth and removing a portion of the tooth to allow for the placement of the tooth.

The next step involves taking the impressions of the tooth to provide a model for the construction of the permanent dental bridge. Since preparing a permanent dental bridge takes time, the dental lab will prepare a temporary bridge, which holds the place of the permanent bridge. 

During the second visit, the dentist will remove the temporary bridge and replace it with the permanent bridge. The dentist might adjust the permanent bridge a little to achieve the perfect fit.

The dentist will schedule several follow-up visits to ensure the permanent dental bridge fits well. Sometimes the dentist will cement the bridge temporarily to test the fit over several weeks before cementing it permanently into place.

Dental bridges are long-lasting. With the right care and regular dental checkups, your dental bridge could last longer than ten years. Some of the tips for caring for dental bridges include:

  • Avoid chewing on ice, raw vegetables, sticky candy, and hard foods, as these can dislodge the dental bridge or weaken it to the point that it fails.
  • Practice good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing your teeth daily.
  • Use an antiseptic mouthwash to prevent oral diseases
  • Schedule regular dental cleanings with your dentist
  • Report any concerns to your dentist as soon as they arise

Dental Bridge vs. Dental Crown

Dental bridges and crowns replace missing teeth. Both of these are ideal for restoring the aesthetics and function of your tooth. However, dentists prefer using dental crowns to restore broken, chipped, or fractured teeth. In this case, the dentist needs to reshape the damaged tooth to leave an abutment for supporting the dental crown.

Both of these restore the function and aesthetics of your teeth. They make it more comfortable to chew and speak. These restorations also prevent dental misalignment, bone loss, and tooth shifting.

Now, you might be confused when choosing the best restoration for your teeth. Both dental crowns and bridges serve the same purpose. The choice between a dental crown and bridge will depend on various factors, including:

  • How fast you want the procedure completed
  • Your medical history
  • The number of missing teeth (crowns mostly replace one tooth or on the top of an implant, while bridges support multiple teeth)
  • Your budget
  • The advantages and disadvantages of each restoration method

Crowns and bridges are common dental restorations, but each comes with its advantages and disadvantages. Understanding these benefits and downsides helps you when choosing the best restoration method that meets your dental goals.

The advantages of dental crowns include:

  • They are a durable tooth restoration solution, with most crowns lasting between 5 and 15 years.
  • They are an ideal solution for different problems as they can support teeth damaged by decay, protect worn teeth, protect teeth after a root canal, and cover dental implants. They also restore the aesthetics of the affected teeth.
  • Dental crowns have a higher success rate compared to other dental restorations.

On the other hand, crowns have some disadvantages such as:

  • Some patients experience discomfort after the procedure includes tooth sensitivity.
  • Crowns may crack or chip, exposing the underlying teeth to bacteria and damage.
  • The cement holding the crown in place may wash away, exposing the tooth.
  • The crown may fail

Bridges are composed of one or more crowns joined to form a prosthetic. They come with several advantages such as:

  • They are an effective dental restoration solution that provides both function and aesthetics to patients. Dental bridges are strong. Dentists can also match the color of the dental bridge to your natural teeth to preserve the aesthetics of your teeth. Natural-looking teeth boost your confidence while restoring your natural smile.
  • They are permanent restorations that do not need removal for cleaning
  • They take a short time to place
  • Bridges restore the function of your teeth, allowing you to speak and chew normally. Gaps in the teeth prevent proper chewing. Without gaps between the teeth, you have an even surface on which chewing forces are distributed. Filling the gaps in your mouth also prevents your tongue from slipping into these gaps and inhibiting speech.
  • Patients with low confidence from missing teeth can restore their self-esteem by filling the gaps in their mouths using dental bridges.
  • Dental bridges provide natural chewing comfort as the chewing forces are distributed on the abutment teeth, not the gum beneath the bridge.

Despite these advantages, dental bridges come with some downsides, such as:

  • The bridge requires the dentist to reshape and contour one or more healthy teeth to support the dental bridges. This reshaping and contouring damages the tissue of the healthy tooth, exposing it to future damage, especially if the dentist does not fit the bridge properly. Implant-supported bridges do not have this problem.
  • The abutment teeth may be too weak to support the dental bridge and collapse over time. Damage to the abutment teeth can worsen the position the patient was in before getting the dental bridge. This damage could necessitate the removal of the abutment teeth.

Dental bridges are also not ideal for patients who:

  • Lack enough support on the abutment teeth due to damage to these teeth
  • Have poor dental hygiene

Choosing between a dental crown and a bridge can be challenging. The best approach is to visit the dentist to have an evaluation and discuss your options and eligibility. The dentist will evaluate the strength of your teeth and the extent of the damage.

In some cases, you might decide that neither crowns or bridges are the best choices for you. In this case, you can choose from other dental restoration alternatives such as:

  • Porcelain Onlays
  • Provisional crowns (these last between three and nine months depending on the material and care)
  • Indirect resin crowns
  • Tooth extraction (as an alternative to dental crowns where the tooth has suffered extensive damage. Extraction is a temporary solution, and you might need to plan another procedure to have a permanent tooth restoration, such as an implant.

For dental bridges, you can choose to have dentures or implants to replace the missing teeth. The choice of the alternative will depend on your budget, needs, and oral health.

Find a Dentist Near Me

Crowns and bridges are a common dental restoration procedure used for both restoration and cosmetic purposes. Placing a crown or a bridge on your tooth can restore the function of your teeth and protect them from further damage. Washington Dental installs dental crowns and bridges for clients across Carson, CA. We have tailored our services to give you the best value for your money and restore your smile and the function of your teeth. We also help you choose between crown and bridges depending on several factors we will discuss during the consultation.  Book your consultation today at 310-217-1507 to discuss your dental needs.