A crown is a tooth-shaped cover placed over a tooth that is badly damaged or decayed. Many people call it a cap. Crowns may be placed for several reasons. Usually, the tooth has been broken or severely damaged by decay. As a result, a filling can’t replace enough of the tooth or make the tooth strong enough. A crown may hold together parts of a cracked tooth. It also can be used to hold a bridge in place. Crowns can be used to improve appearance as well. They may be placed to cover misshapen or badly discolored teeth. Crowns can be made ahead of time (prefabricated) or made to order in a laboratory. Prefabricated crowns are made of plastic or stainless steel. They can be used on a temporary basis until a permanent crown is made.
Dental bridges literally bridge the gap created by one or more missing teeth. A typical bridge consists of 2 crowns, 1 on each side of the gap created by the missing tooth and a false tooth that fill in the gap and is attached to the crowns. These 2 crowned anchoring teeth are called abutment teeth. These supporting teeth can be natural teeth or dental implants. The false tooth/teeth in between the anchoring teeth are called pontics. Bridges can be made from gold, alloys, porcelain or a combination of these materials. There are three main types of bridges: fixed, cantilever, and bonded.