Crown Vs. Filling: Which Dental Treatment Is Right For You?

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Dental cracks due to decay or trauma can prove painful and make your tooth vulnerable to further damage. Your dentist can offer general and cosmetic dentist services that can strengthen the tooth and mask any visible imperfections. The most common crack treatments are dental crowns and fillings.

Crowns and fillings can be made of similar materials. But the differing application method and location means that one will be clearly better than other in some cases. Talk with your dentist to ensure you receive the right treatment for your specific case.

Small to Moderate Cracking: Filling

Is the crack in your tooth small or moderate in size and relatively confined to one area of the tooth? The targeted treatment of a filling might be your best option.

Fillings are performed under a local anesthetic in the dentist's office. Your dentist will first use a drill to remove any remaining decayed area of tooth that could spread after the filling is in place. Once the decay is gone, the filling material is inserted into the crack, leveled off with the top of the tooth, and then sets into place.

The primary filling materials are silver amalgam and composite resin. Silver amalgam is stronger but very dissimilar in color to your natural teeth. Composite resin can be tinted to match your teeth and is durable for most crack applications. But if your cavity is in a molar or other tooth that plays a major role in biting, your dentist might recommend amalgam. If the amalgam is on a rear tooth, it's unlikely that others will notice the silver.

Significant Cracking or Damage: Crown

Do you have a significant crack or cavity that spreads across your tooth? Or have you suffered trauma that has broken off a small section of tooth? Your dentist might recommend a dental crown.

While fillings go inside the tooth, crowns go over the exterior of the tooth. Your dentist will need to lightly file down the exterior of your tooth to help with bonding. An artificial cap is then created to fit over either only the uppermost portion of your tooth or over the full tooth down to the gum, depending on your level of damage. A crown can cover the cosmetic flaws of the damage but also helps protect the tooth from further damage from exterior sources.

Crowns are also available in resin and metal varieties. A metal crown will obviously not look like a natural tooth but gold crowns in particular are aesthetically pleasing to some patients. Resin again is a weaker material than the metal but is more natural looking. Crowns also offer a middle ground option with metal-backed resin crowns that have the resin on the exterior over a metal frame. Contact a professional like David Jackson, DDS for more information.