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When a Tooth Needs a Crown, Not a Filling

Sometimes patients come to see the dentist in St. Petersburg FL, and they have a cavity or fractured tooth. They might know it’s damaged, but assume they’ll just need a filling. Perhaps they came in looking for an emergency dentist or it was just their regular dentistry appointment. In either case, fillings aren’t the answer to every tooth problem. Fillings can only be used in certain circumstances. And in some cases, filling a tooth can actually make things worse for the patient.

First, it’s helpful to know what crowns and fillings are.

What’s a crown?

A crown is a permanent cap on your tooth that encloses the entire tooth. Here are some things you might want to know about crowns:

  • Crowns are custom made outside the dental office, so you’d need to come in for more than one visit.
  • Since it covers the tooth, some patients have opinions on the material used, because the cap is often visible when opening your mouth. Dentists may have a preference for the material type as well.
  • Crowns can protect a fractured tooth from cracking further, and cover up a tooth that’s too weak to be left alone.

What’s a filling?

Fillings are a dental material applied to the tooth area to fill in areas affected by decay. Of course the tooth is cleaned first, and then the filling provides a seal as well as a biting surface.

Here are some things you might want to know about fillings:

  • Fillings can be completed in one visit, sometimes without local anesthesia or the need for sedation dentistry.
  • Fillings are made of different materials, althought resin-based materials are most commonly used.
  • Fillings are good for teeth with limited damage. A large cavity might require a crown instead.

More about crowns

Crowns are prosthetic devices, much like dentures and dental implants. However, crowns go over the existing tooth, whereas dentures and dental implants replace missing teeth. The crown is attached to the tooth with dental cement, and you probably won’t even know it’s there.

Here are some advantages of crowns over fillings:

  • A crown strengthens the tooth, especially if it’s cracked or weak.
  • A filling improperly used on a tooth can cause additional damage, acting like a wedge in the existing crack or crevice. The idea of starting off with a filling on a tooth with more extensive damage can result in costlier and more time consuming procedures later, if the patient has to return for a crown.

Do you have more questions about crowns? Your dentist in St. Petersburg FL should be happy to talk to you about the pros and cons of a crown versus a filling. For those who have concerns with dental treatments, some dentists can provide sedation dentistry.