Why should I have a crown instead of a filling?
September 30, 2019
Dental damage and decay are two things that are virtually inevitable over time. Our teeth work very hard during our lifetime, both fulfilling the purpose that they were meant for (helping us to bite and chew, as well as to speak) as well as some that they aren’t really cut out for but that we use them for anyway (opening beer bottles or packaging sound familiar?). Whether you suffer from decay or gum disease, or they become damaged during a trauma, such as falling face-first on the floor, one of the first things that your dentist will speak to you about is the best way to restore your affected teeth.
Restoring a damaged tooth usually comes down to a choice of two different treatments – fillings and crowns. Here is what you need to know about both, including reasons why, in some cases, a crown may be a more suitable treatment than a conventional filling.
Fillings are the most common form of treatment for repairing a decayed tooth. They can be made from a mixture of materials, from tooth-colored resin to silver amalgam to gold. Tooth-colored varieties tend to be chosen for decayed teeth near the front of the mouth as this makes the restoration much more discreet. The decay is first drilled out of the tooth, leaving a clean hole that is free from bacteria. The filling material is then placed into the hole and manipulated to fill it completely. It then hardens, completing the process.
Crowns are a slightly different type of restoration, although they are equally as popular as fillings. A crown is a tooth-shaped cap that sits over the top of the tooth that is damaged or decayed, covering it completely right down to the gum. Crowns are made from porcelain and are bespoke to the needs of the patient, created in the shape and size needed to resemble your natural teeth. They can also be glazed in a color that enables them to blend into the rest of your smile.
The process to fit crowns is a little trickier. Your dentist will first need to prepare the underlying tooth. This may involve removing areas of decay or damage and filing the tooth down so that the crown fits properly over the top. In the case of a severely eroded or broken tooth, it may be necessary to build it up using a filling material so that it can successfully support the crown.
When is a crown needed instead of a filling?
There are a number of situations in which your dentist will almost certainly recommend a crown over a standard filling. These include the following:
- If the tooth is severely cracked or broken and needs to be held together.
- If your tooth has required a root canal to eliminate an infection.
- If the area of decay is much larger than a filling can reasonably support.
- If your dentist believes that your tooth would benefit from being strengthened.
- If your dentist is concerned that the drilling needed to place a filling would compromise the strength or structure of your tooth.
- If you clench/grind your teeth (a condition called bruxism).
- If the tooth has been previously restored using a filling.
- If you are looking for a long-lasting solution. Dental crowns typically last several times longer than a filling.
Your dentist will be able to talk you through both options and advise you of the best treatment to suit your requirements.
If you require more information about either fillings or crowns, or if you would like to book an appointment to have your damaged or decayed tooth assessed by our experienced team, please contact our offices today.