What's the Difference Between a Filling and a Crown?

Dental Crown or Fillings​​​​​​​
  • By Courthouse Art of Dentistry
  • June 9, 2022
  • If you have a tooth problem such as decay or damage, you will require dental treatment. Some of the options you have for treating the conditions include dental fillings and crowns. These will help stop tooth decay and restore damaged teeth. A dentist at Courthouse Art of Dentistry may recommend one option over the other depending on the situation in your mouth. Here is a breakdown of the difference between a filling and a crown.


    Dental Fillings 

    Fillings are dental materials that fill holes in the teeth caused by decay. The dentist removes the decayed section of the tooth and fills the space. The materials used in fillings include porcelain, silver, and composite resin, most of which can last for years. 

    When properly installed, fillings can prevent decay from continuing to erode the tooth. Fillings are ideal for use when there is minimal damage since they restore the tooth by stopping bacteria from spreading. 


    Dental Crowns 

    Crowns are prosthetic teeth, usually made from porcelain or ceramic, placed over damaged teeth to prevent further decay. Crowns look like natural teeth, and they can help improve speech and chewing. They are ideal for the restoration of badly damaged teeth. 

    For the crown to work effectively, a section of the tooth must be free from infection. This will help provide adequate support for the crown.


    Fillings vs. Crowns: The Difference 

    Fillings fix minimal damage, while crowns are recommended when the damage is more extensive. A filling sits inside the damaged tooth while a crown rests over the tooth. A filling requires a hole drilled in the tooth to remove the decayed portions before filling up the hole. 

    For a crown, the dentist places a prosthetic tooth over the damaged natural tooth. The dentist will examine the tooth to determine the best treatment. 


    Getting Dental Treatment

    If you have tooth decay, you need immediate treatment to prevent further damage. If not treated promptly, decay will worsen, affecting the tooth integrity. At this stage, you will require intensive and costly dental procedures. Crowns can help reinforce and strengthen teeth. The crown encases the tooth, holding it together and allowing the tooth to withstand greater forces. 

    Fillings do not offer as much protection and can increase the risk of tooth fracture in some cases. Fillings are adequate for teeth that do not require strengthening. 


    Replacing Fillings With Crowns

    If a large amount of the tooth’s structure is missing, reinforcement is needed to protect the tooth. In this situation, a crown is more practical than fillings. In some cases, a tooth with an old filling may need evaluation. Teeth that have relatively large restorations have a high risk of damage. Crowns can replace fillings due to defects in the type of filling used, fractures, or continued decay of the tooth.

    When choosing between fillings and crowns, dentists consider the option that creates the best outcome for the teeth. A dental examination and your overall dental health will determine the best option for you. 

    For more on fillings and crowns, visit Courthouse Art of Dentistry at our office in Arlington, Virginia. You can call 703-783-9417 today to schedule an appointment.