A crown is an artificial cap that goes on top of a prepared existing single tooth and helps strengthen the tooth. If you take the example of a helmet over your head when you ride a bike, putting a crown on a tooth is essentially the same concept as it provides a high level of security and integrity to prevent any fractures from worsening.
A crown can be made of ceramic, porcelain, metal or gold. If you wish to match and blend the crown with your other teeth, let your dentist know because this can definitely be done!
A bridge, however, replaces missing teeth and attaches itself between crowns. Sometimes, the teeth on either side of the gap are prepared for these crowns and the bridge is cemented into place. If a tooth is lost through an accident, or if a tooth is too badly decayed to save with a crown, a bridge may be the best option.
The steps involved in preparing a crown or a bridge are very similar. The area to be prepared is numbed using local anaesthetic and the tooth is shaped using a drill to make space for the crown to sit on top of it (usually 1-2mm is removed- which is a tiny amount!). Preparing for a bridge involves shaping the teeth on either side of the gap so that the replacement tooth has a stable anchor that is attached to the framework of adjacent crowns.
In modern dental practices, a digital scan of your mouth is usually taken (some dentists still take physical impressions/moulds) in order to get an accurate representation of your mouth when the preparation for the crown or bridge is done. This scan be sent to a dental lab to make a crown or a bridge. Some technologically advanced dentists manufacture the crown/bridge and install it on the same day in their own clinics, saving patients time and the inconvenience of having to wear temporary teeth.
Once the crown or bridge is installed, it should feel comfortable and natural in the mouth. Be sure to let your dentist know if the bite doesn’t feel right! Adjustments can certainly be made to ensure the crown or bridge is comfortable for you.
It is essential that you are assessed by a dentist to know whether you are a good candidate to receive a crown or a bridge to replace teeth which need strengthening or are missing. Your dentist should be able to tell you what is possible for your situation depending on the individual circumstances in your mouth.