The world of dentistry, like any other field of science and medicine, is full of jargon and specific names for features and procedures. It can be hard for the uninitiated to understand the difference in treatments, especially when it seems like two totally different procedures do the exact same thing.
This is the case with dental crowns and fillings. On the surface, they both perform the same basic function—restoring the form and aesthetics of your teeth. However, there are big differences between these two treatments that could mean big changes in your mouth.
Continue reading to learn more about how dental crowns and fillings work, so you can impress your dentist at your next appointment.
As stated above, the basic idea of both treatments is the same—restoration. Dental crowns and fillings will give back the function of your teeth for eating, protect them from further damage, and revitalize the aesthetics of your smile for a boost in confidence.
As far as similarities go, that is where they end. Fillings and dental crowns are typical treatments for tooth decay. The real difference between the two is in the severity of your tooth’s deterioration. Your dentist will need to make that decision when decay is identified.
What is a Filling?
A filling is reserved for teeth with less decay and no major structural damage like cracks or breaks. When you go visit your dentist, they may probe your mouth with a small instrument to check for tiny holes in your pearly whites. These small holes, cavities, are a minor form of tooth decay that is caused by the buildup of bacterial plaque.
The filling is made from composite resin and looks just like the surface of your tooth so it’s concealed, even if it’s in the front of your mouth. Your dentist first clears away the small amount of decayed tooth matter and then fills the hole with the composite material—hence the term “filling.”
After filling the hole, a special light is used to cure and harden the material, sealing the tooth and leaving you with a restored smile. Because the treatment is minor, fillings can be done in-office on a single day, and their cost is minimal.
What is a Dental Crown?
If your dentist decides that your tooth is severely damaged—beyond the repair of a filling—they may recommend a full or partial dental crown to fix the damage, restore your bite, and avoid further deterioration to the area.
After reducing the enamel on the soon-to-be-coronated tooth, your dentist will take an impression of your mouth to ensure that your crown fits just right. The impression is then sent off to a dental lab where the prosthetic is fabricated from porcelain, resin, or even zirconia.
This process could take a couple of weeks, so you’ll be fitted with a temporary crown while you wait. On your next visit, the dentist will remove the temporary prosthetic and replace it with your new, permanent crown.
As you can see, there is much more to these treatments than meets the eye. On the surface, they appear to do the same thing, but when you dig a little deeper the differences are clear. Use this knowledge to make informed decisions about your oral health and communicate effectively with your dentist.
About the Author
Dr. Terri Alani, the famous “Texas Tooth Lady,” has amassed a huge following with her holistic approach to oral health. As a local celebrity, she has used her platform to further the cause of modern dental care. She’s the Media Committee Chairman for the Greater Houston District Dental Society and serves on the Communications Committee for the Texas Dental Association. To experience her expertise in cosmetic dentistry with crowns or other treatments, visit her website here or call (713) 621-5141.