Understanding Dental Crown vs Dental Bridge: Making an Informed Choice

Understanding Dental Crown vs Dental Bridge: Making an Informed Choice By Dr. Jon ( Junyi ) Ho | September 18, 2023

Welcome to our guide on choosing between a dental crown and a dental bridge. Both options offer unique benefits for individuals with damaged or missing teeth.

A dental crown, typically made from porcelain or ceramic, covers a damaged tooth, improving its appearance and protecting its natural structure. A dental bridge, on the other hand, is a false tooth anchored to adjacent natural teeth, filling gaps and restoring your smile.

Choosing between a dental crown and a bridge involves considering factors such as oral health concerns, dental hygiene practices, and potential costs. This guide will help you understand these options better, aiding you in making an informed decision about your dental treatment.

Summary of the Content:

  • Dental crowns and bridges are practical methods for restoring damaged or missing teeth.

  • A dental crown is a cap that covers a damaged tooth, enhancing its appearance and safeguarding the natural tooth structure.

  • A dental bridge is a false tooth anchored to adjacent natural teeth, filling gaps and revitalising your smile.

  • Choosing between a dental crown and a bridge depends on various factors, including your oral health, budget, aesthetic preferences, and personal comfort.

  • Both dental crowns and bridges require good oral hygiene habits for longevity, including daily cleaning and regular dental visits.

  • When choosing between a dental crown and a bridge, it’s crucial to consult your dentist. Ask about the advantages and disadvantages of each, the procedure, maintenance requirements, cost, and aesthetic outcomes.

Introduction to Dental Crowns and Bridges

In the realm of dental health, dental crowns and bridges play a pivotal role. They are both used to restore and improve the function and appearance of teeth, but they serve different purposes and are used in different situations.

A dental crown is a cap that covers a damaged tooth. It’s used to restore a tooth’s shape, size, and strength and to improve its appearance. Dental crowns can be made from a variety of materials, including porcelain, zirconia, and metal. The choice of material often depends on the location of the tooth, the patient’s preference, and the advice of the qualified health practitioner.

A dental bridge, on the other hand, is used to replace one or more missing teeth. It spans the space where the teeth are missing and is cemented to the natural teeth or implants surrounding the space. These teeth, called abutments, serve as anchors for the bridge, and a replacement tooth, called a pontic, is attached to the crowns that cover the abutments.

What is a Dental Crown?

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A dental crown is a prosthetic component in dentistry that completely caps or encircles a tooth or dental implant. It’s often used as a form of dental restoration and is cemented onto a prepared tooth, giving it the shape, strength, and size of a natural tooth.

Dental crowns can be made from a variety of materials, each with its unique characteristics:

  • Porcelain crowns:
    Porcelain crowns are made entirely of ceramic material and are known for their natural, tooth-like appearance. They are often used for front teeth due to their excellent aesthetic qualities but may be less durable than other types of crowns when it comes to withstanding heavy chewing forces.
  • Zirconia crowns:
    Zirconia crowns are made from zirconium dioxide, a very strong material known for its durability. They can be colour-matched to adjacent teeth and offer a good balance between aesthetics and strength. They are suitable for both front and back teeth.
  • Metal crowns:
    Metal crowns are made of various alloys such as gold, nickel, or chromium. They are extremely durable and can withstand a lot of wear and tear, making them suitable for molars and other teeth that experience heavy chewing forces. However, their metallic colour makes them less aesthetically pleasing.
  • Acrylic crowns:
    Acrylic crowns are made from a type of plastic and are generally used as a temporary solution, while a more permanent crown is being made. They are less durable and more prone to wear and tear compared to other types of crowns but are easier to adjust and less expensive.

Benefits of Dental Crowns

Dental crowns offer several advantages that contribute to improved oral health and quality of life. Here are some of the key benefits:

  • Restoration of tooth function:
    Dental crowns restore the shape, size, and function of damaged teeth, allowing for improved function, especially in chewing and speaking.

  • Aesthetic appeal:
    With materials like porcelain and zirconia, dental crowns provide a natural-looking appearance, enhancing the aesthetic appeal of your smile.

  • Durability:
    Dental crowns are designed to withstand the pressure from chewing, making them a durable approach for long-term restoration.

  • Protection for damaged teeth:
    A dental crown can protect a weak or damaged tooth from further decay or fracture.

  • Support for dental bridges:
    Crowns are essential components of dental bridges. They help secure the bridge so it can fill the gap left by the missing teeth.

What is a Dental Bridge?

A dental bridge is a type of dental restoration used to replace one or more missing teeth. As the name suggests, it ‘bridges’ the gap created by missing teeth. A bridge usually comprises two or more crowns attached to the teeth on either side of the gap (known as ‘abutment teeth’) and a false tooth or teeth in between. These false teeth, made from gold, alloys, porcelain, or a combination of these materials, are called ‘pontics’.

There are several types of dental bridges:

  • Traditional bridges:
    A traditional dental bridge is a type of dental prosthesis used to replace one or more missing teeth. It consists of two crowns placed on the adjacent healthy teeth, known as abutment teeth, with a false tooth or teeth (called pontics) in between. The abutment teeth serve as anchors to hold the bridge in place.

  • Cantilever bridges:
    Unlike a traditional bridge, which is supported by abutment teeth on both sides of the missing tooth, a cantilever bridge is anchored to a single abutment tooth. This type of bridge is generally not recommended for areas of the mouth that experience high stress, such as the molars, due to the uneven distribution of forces.

  • Implant-supported bridges:
    An implant-supported bridge is a dental bridge that is anchored by dental implants rather than natural teeth. In this type of bridge, one or more dental implants are surgically placed into the jawbone, and the bridge is then attached to these implants.

Advantages of Dental Bridges

Dental bridges offer several benefits, contributing to your smile’s functionality and aesthetics. Here are some key advantages

  • Restoration of function:
    Dental bridges allow you to chew and speak properly, restoring the function lost with missing teeth.

  • Aesthetic appeal:
    Bridges help maintain the shape of your face and offer a natural, attractive smile. They can be made from materials that match your natural teeth, including porcelain and zirconia.

  • Prevention of dental issues:
    By filling the gap left by missing teeth, bridges prevent the remaining teeth from shifting out of position, which could lead to further dental issues.

  • Comfort:
    Unlike removable dentures, dental bridges are fixed prosthetic devices that become a part of your teeth, offering a comfortable and stable option.

  • Durability:
    With proper care and good oral hygiene practices, dental bridges can last many years, making them a long-term replacement for missing teeth.

Dental Crown vs Dental Bridge: The Differences

When it comes to restorative dentistry options, both dental crowns and bridges play significant roles. However, they serve different purposes and are used in different dental situations. Here, we’ll compare these two options in terms of procedure, cost, longevity, and maintenance.

Procedure

The dental procedure for a crown involves reshaping the entire tooth to fit the crown over it. This treatment is recommended in case of a weak or fractured tooth or after a root canal treatment. The crown is fabricated in a dental lab to accurately fit your tooth and match the colour of your surrounding teeth for a natural appearance.

On the other hand, a dental bridge is used when one or more teeth are missing. The procedure involves creating a false tooth, known as a pontic, held in place by dental crowns cemented onto each adjacent tooth. The bridge is also custom-made for a comfortable fit and a natural appearance.

Cost

The cost of crowns and bridges can vary widely, depending on the material used, the complexity of the case, and your health insurance coverage. Crowns can be made from a variety of materials, including porcelain, zirconia, metal, or resin, each with different cost implications. On the other hand, dental bridges are typically more expensive than crowns because they involve replacing a tooth and require additional work to secure the bridge.

Longevity

Dental crowns and bridges can last many years with proper care and good oral hygiene practices. However, they may need to be replaced or repaired due to wear and tear or changes in your mouth. Regular dental visits for maintenance and follow-up appointments are essential for the longevity of your crown or bridge.

Maintenance

Dental crown and bridge maintenance involves good oral hygiene habits, including daily cleaning and regular dental visits. Dental crowns can be cleaned using the same methods as natural teeth, such as brushing and flossing. However, special care may be needed to clean under and around a dental bridge to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Dental Crown and Bridge

When choosing between a dental crown and a bridge, several factors come into play. It’s not a one-size-fits-all situation, and what works for one person may not be the ideal choice for another.

Here are some key considerations to keep in mind:

  • Dental Health
    The condition of your teeth is a significant factor. A dental crown might be the most suitable option if you have a single tooth that’s decayed or fractured. On the other hand, if you have one or more missing teeth and the neighbouring teeth are healthy, a dental bridge is a good option. Your dentist will thoroughly examine and guide you on the most suitable treatment option based on your dental health.

  • Budget
    The cost of dental procedures can vary widely, and it’s important to consider your budget. Crowns and bridges come in various materials, each with different cost implications. It’s also worth checking with your health insurance company to see what’s covered under your plan.

  • Aesthetic appearance
    If the appearance of your smile is a priority, you might want to consider the aesthetic outcomes of both options. Dental crowns and bridges can be made from a variety of materials, including porcelain and ceramic, which offer a natural-looking appearance. However, the final result will also depend on the skill and experience of the dental professional.

  • Maintenance and durability
    Both dental crowns and bridges require good oral hygiene habits for longevity. This includes daily cleaning, regular dental visits, and possibly some special care. For example, cleaning under and around a dental bridge may require special cleaning tools. Also, consider the durability of the material used. While porcelain and zirconia offer a natural appearance, gold crowns might offer improved strength.


Choosing between a dental crown and a bridge is a decision that should be made in consultation with a dental professional. They can provide advice based on your situation, including your dental health, aesthetic preferences, and budget. Remember, the goal of restorative dentistry is not just to enhance your beautiful smile but also to improve your oral health and quality of life.

Making an Informed Choice: Questions to Ask Your Dentist

Consulting with your dentist is crucial when choosing between a dental crown and a bridge. Here are some questions you can ask during your appointment to help you make an informed decision:

  1. What is the current state of my oral health?
    Understanding the health of your teeth, including any decayed or weak teeth, is the first step in determining the most suitable treatment option.

  2. What are the benefits and drawbacks of dental crowns and bridges?
    While you might have researched independently, your dentist can provide a more personalised perspective based on your oral health and needs.

  3. What materials are used for crowns and bridges?
    The choice of material, from gold alloys to strong, tooth-coloured materials like porcelain, can impact your treatment’s appearance, strength, and cost.

  4. What is the procedure like for each option?
    Some people prefer a less invasive procedure, while others are more concerned about the number of visits required or the treatment time.

  5. What are the maintenance requirements?
    Both crowns and bridges require good dental hygiene habits, but there might be differences in care routine, such as the need for special cleaning tools for bridges.

  6. How long can I expect the crown or bridge to last?
    While both options are durable, their longevity can be influenced by factors like the material used and your oral hygiene practices.

  7. What is the cost of each option, and what is covered by my health insurance?
    Understanding the cost implications and your health fund coverage can help you plan your budget.

  8. What are the aesthetic outcomes of each option?
    If the appearance of your smile is a priority, ask about the aesthetic appearance of different materials and how they can be used to create a natural-looking smile.

  9. Can I see before and after photos of similar cases?
    This can give you a better idea of the possible results of each treatment option.

  10. What happens if I choose not to have a crown or bridge?
    Understanding the potential consequences of not addressing your dental problems can also affect your decision.

Remember, there’s no such thing as a silly question when it comes to your health. Your dentist is there to help you understand your options and make a decision that suits your situation, needs, and preferences.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the decision between a dental crown and a bridge is a personal one that your dentist should make. Both options can significantly enhance oral health, functionality, and smile aesthetics.

Whether you’re dealing with a single decayed tooth or multiple missing teeth, there’s a treatment that can restore your smile and improve your quality of life. Dental crowns and bridges offer durable and aesthetically pleasing approaches to various dental issues.

Remember to consider your oral health, budget, aesthetic preferences, and personal comfort when making your decision. Your dentist can provide personalised advice based on your situation and needs.

Maintaining your dental hygiene routine is crucial, regardless of your chosen treatment. Dental crowns and bridges can last many years with proper care, contributing to a healthier, more beautiful smile.

Darch Dental Centre is committed to providing comprehensive dental care, including dental crowns and bridge treatment. Our team is here to guide you through the process, answer your questions, and help you make an informed decision about your treatment. Let us help you take care of your smile.

Dr. Jon ( Junyi ) Ho

Dr. Jon is a Perth-based dentist who graduated with a Bachelor of Dental Science in 2005 from the University of Western Australia. He has worked at a range of dental practices, including being a partner and principal dentist for a group of five dental surgeries in Sydney. Dr. Jon has been practising for over a decade in the northern suburbs of Perth. He provides treatment for patients in Darch, Madeley, Landsdale, Kingsway, Kingsley, Marangaroo, Alexander Heights, Wangara, Ellenbrook, and others.

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