Often referred to as "caps," dental crowns are a type of restoration that provides full coverage protection for a tooth that has extensive damage. It is like a new house for the tooth.
There are many cases in which a crown is the most ideal treatment for a tooth. Extensive decay, large failing restorations, chips and/or cracks can result in a loss of tooth structure that's too big to be fixed with a filling. To make a crown, the damaged portion is removed and what remains of your healthy, natural tooth structure is used to support the new crown and help hold it in place. In addition to this, the crown is cemented to help create a strong hold that feels just like your real tooth - unlike a denture, it goes in at your dental visit and stays put!
The crowns made are metal free and 100% tooth colored - no need to worry about darkening of the crown after a few years, which can be a common occurance with porcelain-metal fused crowns.
Bridges are similar to crowns in the way they cover the teeth, however they often function to replace at least one missing tooth. Bridges have a natural tooth supporting them on each side (similar to a crown) and, as their name suggests, "bridge" the gap between those natural teeth to fill the space that is missing.
There are many advantages to having a bridge when a missing tooth exists. When left untreated, the upper and lower teeth around the missing tooth will shift and rotate, which can disrupt the bite and cause jaw pain. Placement of a bridge will fill the space so that no shifting occurs. It also ensures proper distribution of the biting forces your teeth generate so that when you eat, no teeth are burdened with extra force they were not intended to handle . A bridge will also encourage proper esthetics by maintaining a healthy smile on the inside and your natural facial shape on the outside.