Whats the Difference Between Dental Crowns vs. Fillings?

Dental fillings and dental crowns are both methods you can use to treat tooth decay.

So what’s the difference? Fillings and crowns restore damaged teeth and prevent them from decaying any father, but they do this in different ways. They are also used in different circumstances.

Keep reading to learn more about crown vs filling procedures.

What Is a Dental Filling?

Dental fillings are a method dentists use to treat a tooth cavity. So to understand a dental filling, you have to know what a cavity is.

Each of your teeth is covered by a protective layer called enamel. Certain acids in your bacteria can weaken and soften the enamel over time. This leads to a pit forming inside or on the surface of the tooth.

In other words, a cavity is a form of tooth decay. And a dental filling repairs the defect left in the tooth. It returns the tooth to its original shape and function.

Your dentist will remove the decay and use the filling material to close off the cavity. This prevents any bacteria from getting inside the tooth and causing further decay.

The Different Types of Fillings

Dental fillings can be made of many different materials, and no one material is better than any of the others. The type of material your dentist will use to fill your cavity depends on a number of things, including the extent of repair you need, which tooth is afflicted, your budget, and whether or not you have allergies to any of the materials.

Here’s a quick look at the different types of filling materials out there.

Gold Fillings: Fillings made of gold are well tolerated by your gum tissues. This means they can last as long as 20 years without losing their function. Because of this, many dentists consider gold the best type of filling material. However, it is also the most expensive material. Because your dentist has to make your gold filling in a laboratory, it also takes several visits to restore a decayed tooth.

Silver (Amalgam) Fillings: These fillings are dark in color, so they are more noticeable than many other types. Most dentists use silver fillings in back teeth so others can’t see them. Silver is resistant to wear and is affordable for most budgets.

Plastic, Composite Resin Fillings: Plastic or composite resin fillings blend into the natural color of your teeth. If you have a cavity in a noticeable area, your dentist will use this type of filling. But this material can chip over time, so it’s not effective in large areas. Because of this, they don’t last as long as other fillings.

Porcelain Fillings: Your dentist will bond a porcelain filling, or inlay, to the damaged area of your tooth. Like plastic or composite resin fillings, these fillings match the color of your teeth. But they don’t stain from coffee or other substances.

How to Get a Filling

Your dentist will start your appointment by examining the surfaces of your teeth with a mirror. If they find a cavity, they might take an X-ray of your mouth to get a better look at the decay. They will then choose the type of treatment that will work best for your situation.

Your dentist will start the process by removing the decayed parts of your tooth. After cleaning the new cavity, they will fill the space with one of the filling materials listed above.

This process only takes a short amount of time, and in many cases, you can get your cavity filled during the same appointment you find it.

What Is a Dental Crown?

Think of a dental crown like a prosthetic, porcelain tooth. Because it’s hollow on the inside, it fits over the top of one of your real teeth that’s been damaged by decay or another problem.

If your tooth has suffered a serious amount of decay, putting a crown on top will protect the tooth and prevent any further damage. It allows you to use and clean your tooth the same way you normally would. Crowns also look natural. They’ll blend in with the rest of your teeth.

Your dentist might use a crown to restore a broken tooth, protect a weak tooth, support large fillings, to cover misshapen teeth, to cover discoloration or dental implants, or to hold a dental bridge in place.

How to Get a Dental Crown

The process of getting a dental crown is more involved than getting a filling. In most cases, this takes two visits. Here’s what you can expect if you need a dental crown.

First Visit

Your appointment will start with a few X-rays so your dentist can get a better look at the damaged tooth. They will then file down the surface and sides of your decayed tooth to make room for the crown to fit around it. If the tooth has decayed too much, the dentist will use a filling material to build it back up. A tooth that’s too small won’t be able to support the crown.

Using a type or plastic or putty, your dentist will then make an impression of your damaged tooth. This impression may also include surrounding teeth so your dentist can make sure the crown is the right size.

It takes anywhere from two to three weeks for the lab to make your crown. So during your first visit, your dentist will give you a temporary crown to protect your tooth.

Second Visit

At this point, your dentist will remove your temporary crown. They will check the fit and color of your permanent crown and cement it into place.

If the crown doesn’t fit right or has some other problem, they may have to make a few changes before attaching it to your tooth. But in most cases, you can get your permanent crown during your second visit.

Crown vs Filling: What You Should Know

Crown vs filling: so what’s the difference?

While dentists sometimes use fillings and crowns as part of the same treatment, they are two different dental procedures. A filling restores a cavity created in a tooth due to softened enamel, and a crown completely covers and protects a tooth that has gone through serious decay.

Worried you might have some tooth decay? Take a look at some of our services and find out how we can help you.