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Dental Fillings vs. Crowns

By William Stofer on February 23, 2016


An illustration of a dental crown Tooth decay is a major oral health issue that should not go untreated. Restorative dentistry treatments can repair the damage caused by tooth decay, restoring both the health and appearance of your smile. When it comes to choosing a restorative treatment for tooth decay, dental fillings and crowns are both good options, but is one better than the other? Drs. William B. Stofer and Jason D. Hemphill offer this explanation of dental fillings versus crowns. Schedule a consultation at their Warsaw, IN practice to find out which treatment is right for you.

Dental Fillings

Dental fillings are used to treat cavities, which form as a result of tooth decay and are necessary to prevent further decay and protect the inner structures of the tooth. Dental filling treatment requires the removal of decayed, damaged portions of the tooth. This is generally done with a drill and other dental tools. Once the tooth is cleaned of damage, decay, and debris, the filling may be placed.

Dental fillings can be made of metal (silver amalgam or gold), or tooth-colored materials, including composite resin. Tooth-colored fillings are favored over metal fillings not just for their obvious aesthetic benefits, but also because they are better for dental health.

Silver amalgam fillings can actually cause damage to the teeth as the metal expands and contracts when exposed to changes in temperature. This puts pressure on the teeth, which in turn can fracture or break the tooth. Tooth-colored fillings are safer for the teeth because they don't expand or contract. Tooth-colored fillings also require less of the tooth's structure to be removed for placement, helping to preserve dental strength.

Dental Crowns

When decay is too severe for treatment with dental fillings, dental crowns may be the best choice. A dental crown is a tooth-shaped restoration used to completely encase a damaged tooth, restoring dental structure, strength, and appearance.

Dental crown treatment begins with preparing the tooth through the removal of damaged or decayed areas. Traditionally, an impression is made of the tooth and then sent to a dental lab where there is about a two-week turnaround for custom crowns. Using CEREC® technology, Drs. Stofer and Hemphill are able to craft dental crowns in-office for same-day treatment. Once the dental crown is finished, dental cement is used to bond the crown in place and complete treatment.

In addition to treating tooth decay, dental crowns can be used to treat broken, fractured, or otherwise damaged teeth, saving them from requiring extraction. Teeth weakened by large fillings may also benefit from dental crown treatment. Dental crowns can even be paired with dental implants to replace a single missing tooth.

Which Treatment Is Right for Me?

Both dental crowns and dental fillings can restore oral health and dental function. Dental fillings are typically best suited to minor tooth decay whereas dental crowns are better suited to more severe decay or damage. The type of treatment used will depend on the needs of each patient.

Schedule a Consultation

Treating tooth decay early is key to protecting dental health and function. To find out which treatments are right for your dental care needs, we invite you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Stofer or Dr. Hemphill today.

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