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When Is a Crown Needed Versus a Dental Filling?
There are major differences between a dental crown and a dental filling, but dentists use them for the same reason — to repair a decayed or damaged tooth. When dental professionals suggest one over the other, you may need to know why. The ultimate aim is to provide the most effective solution to restore the appearance and function of the affected tooth without incurring unnecessary costs.
Defining dental crowns and dental fillings
When a tooth suffers decay or cavities, the standard solution is a dental filling. The filling material can be porcelain, composite resin, gold, or silver amalgam. The process is relatively straightforward and painless. Dental fillings are highly effective, particularly if the decay is discovered before it gets severe. It will prevent the bacteria from spreading and restore the tooth’s health. Dental fillings generally last for about five years or more.
Dental crowns, on the other hand, are like tooth caps. They completely cover a tooth that has suffered structural impairment due to decay, breakage or fracture. Crowns are fabricated from materials like porcelain, metal-fused porcelain, composite resin and gold. They are customizable to look and feel like natural teeth. Dental crowns cost more than dental fillings and can be expected to last between five to 15 years with proper care.
Factors that determine the choice of fillings or crowns
To determine which option (dental fillings or crown) would be more effective, a dentist will consider the following factors:
Size of the cavity
The size of the cavity is one of the factors that decide the choice between a dental filling and a dental crown. When tooth decay goes untreated for long, it gets bigger and deeper. If the cavity is detected on time, a filling is good enough. However, if the decay has affected a significant portion of the tooth, the dentist will suggest a dental crown.
If a tooth has been filled too many times, then a crown might be in order. The reason for this is that the tooth becomes weaker as more fillings replace its original structure. Soon, it will not be strong enough to withstand normal biting and chewing. This may cause the tooth to crack or break completely. Also, a tooth composed of large fillings or several small fillings is vulnerable to pulpitis — an infection of the root by bacteria. The crown will protect the tooth from the infection.
Broken or cracked teeth
A crown is customized to look like a natural tooth, which means it is perfect for repairing chipped, cracked, or broken teeth. The crown will protect the tooth from further damage that may expose it to infection. It is impractical to use a dental filling to restore a cracked tooth, regardless of the severity of the damage.
If the core of a tooth is infected, the dentist will clean out the infection, but the loss of the tooth’s core makes the tooth hollow and weaker. Performing a root canal and placing a dental crown over the tooth is the only way to save the tooth from extraction.
When you meet with the dentist, they will recommend the best option between a dental filling and a dental crown to restore your tooth to its original state.
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