Crowns, Veneers, and Bridges

What’s the Difference Between Dental “Caps,” “Crowns,” “Bridges,” and “Veneers?"

Dental Crowns, also Called Caps 

Porcelain over gold crown

“Caps” or “capping” are older terms for dental crowns, as in, “That movie star had all of his teeth capped.” It is a layman’s term for having front teeth fixed, as well. Sometimes people will say that they had broken front teeth “capped” when a dentist has repaired chipping with composite resin filling material. For those of us in the dental field, a “cap” refers to a dental crown, which covers the entire top and sides of a tooth. Teeth are often crowned for strength, and sometimes for beauty as well. At Hakala Family Dentistry we have been providing dental crowns in Denver, Colorado for over 30 years.

Types of Dental Crowns

A tooth can have a crown made of gold, ceramic material, or a combination. In the past, it was most common to have crowns made of either gold, or porcelain that was baked onto a metal base for strength. These crowns are called “PFMs,” – porcelain-fused-to-metal. Newer ceramic materials have been developed that are stronger and more natural-appearing; they do not require a metal base. For front teeth, lithium silicate is now used to give crowns a natural appearance. On back teeth with heavy biting forces, zirconium is now used often. The zirconium crowns are similar in nature to cubic zirconium “diamonds” that are very hard.

Veneers

All zirconia crown

When just the front surface of a tooth is covered, the covering is called a “veneer.” Most often, veneers are placed to make the teeth look whiter and more even. Getting a full set of front veneers has become more common than getting a full set of front crowns because there is less damage to the teeth underneath. Veneers are usually made of porcelain or lithium silicate, and can be very natural-looking.

Call us if you would like to discuss having veneers or crowns on your teeth to improve your smile!

Bridges

When there is a gap from a missing tooth, one way to replace the tooth is to put a crown on the adjacent teeth, and place a false tooth in between. The bridge is then permanently cemented into place so that it doesn’t have to be removed.

Bridges are much more comfortable than partial dentures because they stay in place, and can improve appearances. As with crowns, bridges can be made of gold metal, ceramic material, or a combination of porcelain and metal. The recent improvements in dental implants have decreased the number of dental bridges provided, because implants do not require damage to the adjacent teeth. 

Whether to choose a dental bridge or a dental implant to replace a missing tooth requires consideration of many factors, including cost, length of time involved, which teeth are missing, and even some health issues.

Call us if you would like to discuss whether bridges or implants are right for you!

As will natural teeth, teeth that have crowns, bridges and veneers still require the best possible home care to keep them healthy. The teeth can still collect dental plaque that causes decay around the edges of the crowns and veneers, and must be checked regularly by your dentist to make sure that they are remaining strong and healthy. This is especially true when there is gum recession that exposes the roots of teeth or when medications are causing decreased saliva flow. Devices such as WaterPiks, bridge threaders, and Stimudents can all be helpful to remove plaque and prevent decay.

Ask us how to keep your teeth with crowns, bridges, and veneers healthy!