Dental Fillings vs. Crowns: Which Is Right for You?

By Steven Kail on October 02, 2015

Illustration of a tooth with a question markDespite our best efforts to take care of our teeth, dental damage sometimes happens. The National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research reports: “92 percent of adults 20 to 64 have had dental caries in their permanent teeth.” In addition to cavities, dental injuries and infections can also do a number on your enamel. At Premier Dental Center, Dr. Steven Kail, Dr. Joseph Leonard, Dr. Chris Arnold, and the rest of our team are here to help you repair and enhance your smile with a full suite of restorative dentistry treatments. We can remedy dental damage with two types of prostheses: dental fillings, which are smaller restorations that help rebuild your tooth, and crowns, which are custom made caps that cover the entirety of your tooth. In the following blog post, we explain the benefits, disadvantages, and appropriate uses for dental fillings vs. crowns at our Jackson practice.

Who Should Have a Dental Filling?

You may be a good candidate for a dental filling if:

  • You suffer from a small, localized area of decay
  • Your tooth has a small chip in it
  • Your fundamental tooth structure is intact

The Procedure

If you opt for a dental filling, one of our dentists will begin the placement procedure by administering local anesthesia to keep you comfortable during treatment. Next, he will carefully remove the damaged portion of the tooth. He will then clean the remaining tooth structure to limit your risk for future decay, infection, or other oral health issues. Once your tooth has been sanitized, your dentist will place a composite resin (custom made to match your natural tooth color and blend in with your smile) over the missing portion of your tooth, shape it for a natural look, and harden it using a special light.

Benefits of Fillings

Fillings offer several distinct advantages over crowns. These types of restorations:

  • Require a simple, minimally invasive placement procedure that usually takes just one appointment to complete
  • Preserves as much of the natural tooth as possible
  • Can be replaced by more intensive crown treatment at a later date if needed

Who Should Have a Crown?

A dental crown may be a more appropriate treatment plan to repair your tooth if:

  • You have undergone root canal therapy for an infected tooth pulp
  • You suffer from extensive decay
  • Your tooth is fractured or broken
  • The basic structure of the tooth has been compromised by dental damage
  • You want to instantly straighten and whiten the affected tooth, as well as restore it
  • You desire a longer-lasting solution
  • You do not suffer from bruxism (tooth grinding), as this could wear down your crown over time

The Procedure

Placing a dental crown typically takes two appointments. During your first visit, one of our dentists will conduct a visual exam and take x-rays to get a better understanding of your dental damage and tooth structure. Next, he will shape your tooth so that it can snugly hold a crown. In most cases, this involves removing a small amount of enamel, but if the damage to your tooth is particularly severe, we may need to use special materials to add volume to your tooth. Once your tooth has been adequately prepared for restoration, your dentist will use putty to create a model of it for our trusted partner lab. Experienced dental technicians will use this mold, as well as your specifications for size, shape, and color, to custom make your restoration. To protect your tooth and restore your smile while you wait for your permanent prosthesis, we’ll place a temporary crown over your tooth.

In two to three weeks, we’ll have your final crown ready. Assuming you approve of its appearance and fit, we’ll proceed with placement. During this appointment, we’ll remove the temporary prosthesis and secure your permanent crown with bonding cement. This process typically takes less than an hour and requires just local anesthesia to complete.

Crown Advantages

As compared to dental fillings, crowns offer several distinct advantages. Crowns:

  • Typically last much longer. The average filling requires replacement about once every ten years, while crowns can last for up to three decades.
  • Strengthen the tooth and better fortify it against future damage than fillings.
  • Provide more cosmetic benefits. Since they cover the entire tooth, they can hide a variety of aesthetic imperfections.

We Can Help You Choose the Right Restoration

Not sure if a crown or filling would be better for your damaged tooth? Contact us today to find out more about these options or schedule a consultation with one of our dentists.

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