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Dental crowns and bridges: function vs. appearance

Older man talks to dentist

Dental crowns and bridges are both common replacements for missing teeth or restore damaged teeth.

A crown makes an ideal solution for a severely cracked or decayed tooth; if you ever need a root canal, your dentist will likely place one over the treated tooth to ensure its structural integrity and protect it from further infection. You might also choose a crown to cover an old filling, so it is not as noticeable to others.

A dental bridge helps to fill the gap left by a missing tooth, whether you lost it due to trauma or dental disease. The bridge consists of one or more replacement teeth as well as abutments or dental crowns that hold them in place. The teeth on either side of the missing tooth act as support for the dental bridge. Your dentist anchors the supporting abutment or crown to each of the neighboring teeth, and this holds the replacement tooth in place.

Choosing Dental Crowns for Aesthetic Purposes

While more commonly used as restoration after losing or damaging a tooth, some patients request a dental crown mainly for the sake of appearance. For example, a crown can cover a badly misshapen or discolored tooth that has not responded as well as hoped to professional teeth whitening.

One benefit of choosing a dental crown for aesthetic purposes is that it looks completely natural in your mouth. Dentists take special care to match the shade of the crown to your other teeth so that your treated tooth blends in seamlessly. It fits so securely over the top of your tooth that you may forget it’s not your natural tooth. Alternatives to addressing cosmetic concerns with a dental crown include inlays, onlays, and porcelain veneers.

Using Dental Bridges to Improve Appearance

Having a missing tooth is an aesthetic concern as well as a significant risk factor for future oral health problems. When it comes to your appearance, a dental bridge helps to maintain the shape of your face and improve your smile. Depending on the location of your tooth loss and your personal preferences, you will receive one of these types of bridges:

• Cantilever: This attaches to one other tooth and makes a good option to replace missing teeth in the back of your mouth.

• Fixed: A fixed bridge includes replacement teeth in the center and an abutment or crown at each end.

• Resin-Bonded: This involves your dentist placing metal bands behind neighboring teeth. It’s an excellent choice for missing front teeth since they’re typically too small for a crown.

Your dentist is the best person to speak to when you have questions about the different types of restorative and cosmetic options. Many dentists offer a no-obligation consultation to give patients the information they need to make the best treatment decision.

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