When it comes to dental care, there are various treatment options available to address different oral health concerns. Two common methods of dental restoration are dental crowns and fillings. Many people often confuse these two treatment options and are unsure which one is right for them.
In this guide, we will delve into the details of dental crowns and fillings, discussing their types, advantages, and differences, to help you make an informed decision.
What Are Dental Crowns?
Dental crowns, also known as dental caps, are prosthetic tooth-shaped covers that are placed over a damaged or weakened tooth. They provide protection, durability, and aesthetic improvement to the tooth. Dental crowns are custom-made to fit over the natural tooth and can be made from various materials, including porcelain, metal alloys, and composite resins.
Types of Dental Crowns
Porcelain crowns are popular for their ability to closely mimic the natural appearance of teeth. They are an excellent choice for front teeth or visible areas of the mouth. Porcelain crowns are stain-resistant and have a translucent quality that allows light to pass through, creating a realistic and aesthetically pleasing result.
Similar to porcelain crowns, ceramic crowns are known for their natural-looking appearance. They are free of any metal content, making them a great option for individuals with metal allergies or those concerned about metal visibility.
Metal crowns, typically made of gold or palladium alloys, are highly durable and resistant to wear and fractures. They are known for their strength and longevity and are often recommended for molars or teeth that require significant structural support. While metal crowns are extremely functional, their metallic color makes them less popular for visible areas of the mouth.
Porcelain-Fused-to-Metal (PFM) Crowns
PFM crowns combine the strength of a metal structure with the natural aesthetics of porcelain. These crowns have a metal substructure that is covered with a layer of porcelain. PFM crowns strike a balance between durability and cosmetically pleasing results, making them a versatile option for various tooth restoration needs.
Zirconia crowns are known for their exceptional strength and durability. They are resistant to chipping, cracking, and wear, making them an ideal choice for restoring teeth subjected to heavy biting forces. Zirconia crowns can be customized for color, providing a natural look that blends seamlessly with surrounding teeth.
Composite Resin Crowns
Composite resin crowns are made from a tooth-colored material directly applied and shaped on the tooth, making them an economical and conservative option. While they may not offer the same strength and longevity as other types of crowns, they are suitable for temporary restorations or aesthetic enhancements.
What Are the Advantages of Dental Crowns?
- Strengthening Weakened or Cracked Teeth. Dental crowns not only provide a protective shield but also strengthen the overall structure of weakened or cracked teeth. This prevents further breakage, ensuring that the tooth remains functional for an extended period.
- Restoring Function. Dental crowns are specifically designed to replicate the shape, size, and functionality of natural teeth. By placing a crown over a damaged tooth, individuals can regain their ability to bite and chew properly, restoring the normal function of their mouth.
- Protecting After Root Canal Treatment. After undergoing a root canal procedure, the affected tooth becomes more vulnerable to fractures and damage. In such cases, dental crowns are commonly placed over the treated tooth to provide additional reinforcement and protection against any potential harm.
- Enhancing Aesthetics. Along with functional benefits, dental crowns greatly contribute to the improvement of one’s smile. By concealing unsightly or discolored teeth, crowns can significantly enhance the appearance of the smile, boosting self-confidence and creating a more aesthetically pleasing overall look.
- Durability. Dental crowns are made from durable materials such as porcelain or ceramic, which allows them to withstand the pressures of everyday dental functionality. With proper care, these crowns can last for many years, providing a long-term solution for tooth restoration.
- Compatibility. Dental crowns are customized to match the color, size, and shape of an individual’s natural teeth. This ensures that the crown seamlessly blends with the rest of the smile, making it virtually indistinguishable from the surrounding teeth. The customized approach ensures a natural and aesthetically pleasing result.
What Are Dental Fillings?
Dental fillings are a restorative treatment used to repair teeth affected by mild to moderate decay or damage. When a tooth undergoes decay or suffers from a minor fracture, a filling can be placed to restore its function and structural integrity. The process starts with the removal of the decayed or damaged part of the tooth, ensuring the elimination of any potential bacterial infection. Once the affected area is cleaned and prepared, the resulting cavity is filled with suitable dental material.
The cavity-filling material fills the void, restores the tooth’s natural shape, and provides stability for normal biting and chewing functions. Dental fillings also prevent further decay or damage by sealing off the vulnerable area of the tooth from bacteria or food particles, helping to maintain oral health and prevent future complications.
What Are the Different Types of Dental Fillings?
Composite resin fillings are a popular choice due to their ability to match the color of the natural tooth, providing a more seamless and aesthetic appearance. They are made from a blend of plastic and glass materials, and they bond directly to the tooth, providing good durability and resistance to moderate biting forces.
Amalgam fillings, often referred to as silver fillings, are composed of a mixture of metals, such as silver, tin, copper, and mercury. They are known for their strength and durability, making them suitable for posterior teeth that withstand significant chewing forces. Amalgam fillings are cost-effective and long-lasting, although their darker color may be less desirable for visible areas of the mouth.
Gold fillings are made from a mixture of gold and other metals, providing excellent durability and longevity. They are well-tolerated by the surrounding gum tissues and offer a precise fit to the tooth. While gold fillings are highly durable, their metallic color makes them more suitable for areas that are less visible, such as molars.
Porcelain fillings, also known as inlays or onlays, are custom-made dental restorations fabricated in a dental laboratory. They can be closely matched to the natural tooth color, resulting in a highly aesthetic restoration. Porcelain fillings are stain-resistant, and their durability is comparable to that of composite resin or amalgam fillings.
Ceramic fillings, similar to porcelain fillings, are made from tooth-colored materials. They are known for their ability to closely mimic the appearance of natural teeth. Ceramic fillings are stain-resistant and provide a highly aesthetic result.
What Are the Advantages of Dental Fillings?
- Preservation of Natural Tooth Structure. Dental fillings are designed to fill the cavities caused by decay while preserving the remaining structure of the affected tooth. The decayed portion is removed, and the filling material is applied to restore the tooth’s shape and functionality. Unlike more invasive procedures like dental crowns or implants, fillings allow for the preservation of a larger portion of the natural tooth.
- Aesthetically Pleasing. Dental fillings can be made from a variety of materials, including composite resin, porcelain, or even gold. However, the most commonly used material nowadays is tooth-colored composite resin. This type of filling blends seamlessly with the natural color of your teeth, providing a more aesthetically pleasing result. It allows for discreet treatment, so your smile remains natural-looking even after the dental work.
- Reduction of Tooth Sensitivity. Teeth affected by decay often become sensitive, especially to hot or cold temperatures. Dental fillings not only address the decay but also reduce tooth sensitivity. The protective barrier created by the filling material helps to shield the tooth’s nerves from external irritants, minimizing discomfort and sensitivity.
- Prevention of Further Decay. Dental fillings not only restore the teeth but also act as a protective barrier against future decay. By sealing off the cavity, the filling material prevents bacteria from entering and causing further damage. This helps to maintain the integrity of the tooth, providing long-term protection against decay.
Dental Crown Vs Filling: What Are The Differences Between Them?
1. Tooth Structure
Dental crowns involve meticulous shaping and reducing of the natural tooth structure to make room for the crown that fittingly caps the tooth. This provides a full-coverage, effective solution and ensures a more robust and secure restoration of the entire tooth structure, thus offering more stability.
In contrast, dental fillings preserve the existing natural structure by removing only the decayed portion so the filling material can be applied. This approach is not as comprehensive and sometimes leaves room for potential future decay.
2. Severity of Decay
Dental crowns shine in handling cases of severe decay or damaged teeth. Dental crowns can cover, reinforce, and protect the remaining tooth matter from further degradation if the decay has reached a significant depth or the tooth is structurally compromised. On the other hand, fillings find their place in remedying minor to moderately decayed teeth. If the decay is extensive, filling material may not provide adequate support to the tooth, thus reducing its effectiveness and lifespan.
3. Aesthetic Considerations
Dental crowns give you the confidence to flash your pearly whites since they can be specifically designed to mimic the color, shape, and size of your natural teeth. They provide an aesthetically pleasing result while restoring the functionality and health of your teeth. Fillings, although discreet in nature due to their color-matching ability with your natural teeth, tend to carry a more artificial look than dental crowns and may not be the most visually appealing option if located in the visible portion of the mouth.
Dental crowns generally outlive fillings because they’re made with long-lasting materials besides offering better protection and reinforcement to the tooth structure. While fillings may need replacement more frequently due to wear and tear or potential new decay, crowns are more resistant to these issues due to their enveloping nature. Regular care and maintenance can ensure the longevity of any dental restoration, but crowns do come out ahead due to their resilience.
5. Dental Procedures
Dental crown procedures are more involved and often require multiple dental visits. This investment in time pays off with a stronger and more durable restoration. But if speed is of the essence, the dental filling procedure may be more appealing as it’s simpler and can often be completed in a single visit. However, it’s crucial to remember that taking shortcuts can sometimes compromise the effectiveness of the restoration.
Also, getting crowns involve the removal of a healthy tooth structure to make room for the crown. This process of tooth structure removal is irreversible, meaning that once a dental crown is placed, it cannot be reversed.
Dental Filling Vs Crown: Which Is Better?
Dental crowns and fillings are effective treatments for restoring damaged or decayed teeth. The choice between the two often depends on the extent of the tooth damage and the specific needs of the patient.
Dental fillings are less invasive and often used for minor decay or damage. They are a cost-effective solution and can provide a natural appearance with materials like composite resins. On the other hand, dental crowns are typically used for more extensive dental issues. They offer comprehensive coverage and protection for the tooth, making them an excellent choice for severely decayed, cracked, or weakened teeth.
However, it’s essential to consult a dental professional who can assess your oral health and recommend the best treatment option.
Restore and Enhance Your Smile at South Eastern Dental Center: Book Your Appointment Today!
Dental crowns and fillings are both dental treatments that address damaged teeth with their own benefits and drawbacks. The right choice depends on the extent of tooth decay or damage and your personal preferences. At Southeastern Dental Center in Columbus GA, our team of friendly and experienced dentists helps you decide which procedure is suitable for your needs. They will assess your oral health and create a customized treatment plan.
Don’t let dental issues affect your oral health and confidence. Call Southeastern Dental Center to schedule an appointment and learn when do you need a crown vs. filling.