Fillings & Crowns
Most of us are not new to fillings or crowns, but don’t really understand the difference. There can be a significant price difference between the two, but the reasons for one being recommending over the other is vague. While both are used in the process to repair a decayed tooth, a filling is normally used for less extensive repair, while a crown is needed for larger cavities or broken teeth.
To repair a decayed tooth the affected portion is drilled out, and then your dentist works to fill and reshape your tooth to its original form. This ensures you have full function of your tooth once it has been repaired, while also sealing off the exposed area from bacteria that may cause further damage. Essentially, fillings and crowns repair while they also help prevent and protect from the risks of future cavities.
Fillings are usually more common, because they are less expensive and also the simplest solution to smaller cavities. However, some decay can compromise the structure of the tooth, or be so large that it does not leave enough healthy tooth for a normal filling to be effective. This is when a crown is needed. While a filling relies on the remaining tooth and fills in the exposed portion that was decayed and removed, a crown completely covers the tooth. This crown becomes the new external structure of the tooth while also protecting from future damage. Sometimes, when a tooth repair causes a crack, a filling will not work, requiring a crown.
Both of these solutions come in a variety of materials; whichever is right for you depends on your budget, how extensive the damage is, and how visible the tooth is. Although is seems more appropriate for an old Western film, gold fillings are still an option, and considered one of the most effective and long lasting options. Silver, which is actually an alloy mixture called amalgam, is another long lasting option, but much less expensive than gold. Porcelain fillings are similar to gold in price, but can be matched to the color of your teeth for a more natural appearance. Lastly, one of the most common solutions is the composite, resin material that can be mixed in office to match the color of your existing teeth. This is one of the least expensive options, and also does not require multiple visits to create molds. However, it is good to note that the resin material will wear down faster than the other materials, and may require repair or replacement sooner.
All four of these material options for a filling are not available for crowns. Due to the more extensive repair, the process to make a crown that fits your tooth correctly requires a more customized piece. After a mold of the tooth is taken, a lab is utilized to create a custom crown to cap the damaged tooth perfectly. Meaning, the composite, resin material commonly used for fillings, will not work for a crown. Inherently making crowns a more long-term solution to any dental restoration, and also more expensive.