What is a dental crown? Your essential guide to crowns & bridges

If you’re struggling to maintain a healthy-looking smile, you’ve most likely been looking into a wide range of cosmetic dentistry procedures to help regain some confidence and restore your lovely teeth.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to restore chipped, broken, decayed, or damaged teeth is either a) a dental crown or b) dental bridges. Crowns and bridges might not click right away when searching for a solution – everyone seems to be advertising take-home whitening kits, but sometimes it’s just not enough!

For more complicated or severe dental problems, crowns or bridges are a natural-looking solution capable of strengthening your teeth and improving the longevity of your dental health.

But what is a dental crown, and what are dental bridges? In this blog, we explain the ins-and-outs of both crowns and bridges from basic definitions to procedures and caring for your new smile. Read on!

What is a dental crown? 

what a tooth crown looks like

Image: Acero Crowns

A dental crown is a covering for a damaged, decayed, or discoloured tooth. Crowns are often needed when a tooth has been damaged to the point where there’s not enough of the original tooth for a filling.

Dental crowns are available in a range of materials, depending on your individual needs, aesthetic preferences, and budget. Most crowns are made from a mix of porcelain and metal alloys, but all-ceramic crowns offer the best cosmetic results because they are able to transmit light all the way through the crown without the obstruction of the metal. 

It looks far more natural, but never fear if metal crowns are a better solution for you – the alloy is covered by the porcelain cap, so it will still look subtle! Plus, you’ll have the added bonus of additional support and a long-lasting crown.

Another common question we receive: “what is a dental cap?”

Dental crowns and dental caps are the same things – it’s all semantics! Sometimes dental crowns are called “caps” because like a cap or hat, the crown sits on top of the tooth and protects the tooth from further damage or decay, while also improving the look of the tooth at the same time.

What does a tooth crown look like?

dental crowns before and after

Image: San Diego Dentist

It’s natural to feel concerned when your dentist recommends cosmetic treatment for a chipped, discoloured, or decaying tooth. Quite often, the first thing that comes to mind is whether the treatment is going to change the way you look, or whether or not you’ll even like the way you look afterward.

The purpose of a dental crown is to improve the appearance of your teeth and strengthen the damaged or decayed tooth. The great thing about dental crowns is that they do look very natural – we will match the ceramic material to the colour of your remaining teeth so it fits in seamlessly.

It’s so subtle, it’s unlikely anyone will ever notice you’ve had dental crowns put on!

What’s involved in the dental crown procedure?

Our practice offers 2 different ways of making crowns and bridges. The first method is the traditional one, in which the crown is hand-made by a laboratory technician.

You will require two appointments with Swansea Dental Practice for hand-made crowns. At your first appointment, we will take an impression of your tooth (or teeth) to ensure your new crowns fit perfectly. We will also prepare your tooth (or teeth) for the procedure by removing a thin layer of the surface of the tooth. 

Your new crown will be the same thickness as the removed layer.

Then, the impression of your teeth will be sent to our dental technicians to be made to your exact prescription. Before you leave, however, we’ll provide a temporary crown so your teeth look normal while our technicians are working away making your new crown or bridge.

dental crown procedure

Image: Health Direct

Once your brand new crowns have come in, we’ll book your second appointment to have the crowns adhered or cemented into place. We can also adjust the crowns if needed.

The second method we offer is a new technology utilising CAD cam equipment. It allows for your tooth to be shaped in the normal way to receive the crown, but instead of silicone impressions, a laser wand is used to scan the tooth. 

This sends its data to a computer-controlled milling machine, producing your crown or bridge in about 15 minutes – meaning that it can be glued on and finished at the same appointment. 

The materials used are the same as the hand-made crowns but don’t offer quite the same level as custom colouring as the manually made crowns, meaning that crowns on front teeth are more suited to the hand-made crowns. 

What are dental bridges? 

dental bridges

Image: Integrated Dental Health

As the name suggests, dental bridges help bridge the gap between missing teeth using false teeth. Whether you’re missing one tooth or missing a few, dental bridges can help restore your smile and rebuild your confidence!

Like crowns, dental bridges are made from porcelain or metal, or a mixture of the two (depending on what your dentist recommends). The bridge itself is supported by crowns on the adjacent teeth and the crowns are then attached to the false teeth to form a strong restoration.

If you choose (or your dentist recommends) ceramic crowns, a complete arch of teeth can be made without metal. At Swansea Dental, we use the latest zirconia frameworks which are covered with natural-looking porcelain.

What do dental bridges look like? 

Dental bridges can be used to solve a wide range of dental problems, but most commonly they’re used to replace missing teeth – whether they have been knocked out, lost, or simply didn’t grow in. 

Just like dental crowns, bridges are matched to the unique shape of your mouth, gums, and teeth. Your bridges will be fitted down to the gum so they will look 100% natural – plus, they will be matched to the colour of your remaining teeth, so once again it will look like they’re not even there!

What is involved with the dental bridge procedure? 

 Like the dental crown procedure, we can manufacture bridges 2 different ways: for the first, we will need two appointments to take an impression of your teeth and prepare them for the bridges. If required, your dentist will file down the two teeth on either side of the gap and then take a mould of your mouth to make the bridge.

Naturally, those two filed down teeth will look a little different, so we’ll provide temporary bridges and crowns until our second appointment.

bridge procedure

Image: Health Direct

Once your bridges have come back from being hand-made in the lab, we’ll book your second appointment and cement the bridge to the two teeth we prepared in the last appointment. Sometimes, a dental implant may be required to anchor the bridge to your gum, but this is not required (or suitable) for all patients.

Just like crowns, many bridges can now be made with CAD cam technology, meaning they are made on the spot and can be finished in one appointment. 

The colour matching with CAD cam is more limited, though, so it can sometimes be hard to get a perfect colour match in front teeth. That’s why it’s sometimes still necessary to have bridges involving front teeth made by hand the old way for a perfect colour match.

How do I look after my new crowns or bridges? 

man smiling with new bridges

Images: Unsplash

Basically, all you need to do is look after your crowns and bridges as you normally would with your original teeth! We recommend brushing with fluoride toothpaste and flossing every day, as you normally would, and be sure to book regular visits to the dentist.

It’s also important to note that while your dental crowns cannot decay, the edge of the tooth it sits on can. If you choose crowns (or your dentist recommends them), always remember to floss and take good care of your teeth.

Book a consultation with one of our professional cosmetic dentists at Swansea Dental Practice today! 

Before committing to dental crowns or bridges, the first step is to book an appointment with an experienced cosmetic dentist. At Swansea Dental Practice, we offer a wide range of cosmetic dentistry services and solutions, so you can feel confident and supported when choosing the right treatment.

We can take a more comprehensive look at your teeth and mouth health, then determine if crowns or bridges are the best solutions to meet your needs. 

Give our team a call on (02) 4971 1432 to book an appointment today.

Image: Unsplash

woman smiling with dental crowns
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What is a dental crown? Your essential guide to crowns & bridges


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