I have been told I need a crown. Can’t I just have a filling?
There are many factors which must be considered in deciding which is the right solution in the placement of a filling versus a crown. Whether a crown or filling is appropriate is based on a number of factors which come into play.
In order to better understand the difference between the two solutions, let’s look at some background ideas. The size of a filling is a huge factor in deciding the best solution. With a small filling, there is usually no concern about the tooth strength. Once a tooth’s structure has been changed due to a break, extensive decay or being drilled away it is no longer as sound. A small cavity may need just a filling, however, a dental filling in the wrong application will not offer adequate protection. Placing a filling doesn’t increase the overall strength of its tooth, it just fills the hole in the tooth. It may place the tooth at greater risk for breaking due to the weakness brought on by drilling away the structure of the tooth. Fragile or weakened teeth will remain at risk for further breakage, which may put the long-term outlook for the tooth in jeopardy. Placing a filling may be only a short term answer as a fracture may occur abruptly and result in the unreinforced tooth deteriorating further. A large filling frequently leaves a tooth at risk for breakage or crack formation which could result in cracking into the nerve of the tooth, requiring a root canal treatment to be done, or cracking vertically down the root, which would make the tooth unsavable. A filling the has potential to act as a wedge when chewing pressure is applied to it.
A crown is placed over a tooth after some of the tooth has been removed from the perimeter and biting surface. The crown completely replaces what you see of the tooth. It typically goes down to the gumline or deeper if there is decay or a previous restoration. A crown will strengthen the tooth due to the way it cups over and encases it. Each time you chew on the crown, it holds the tooth together, rather than acting like a wedge to cause cracks or breaks like an un-reinforced tooth would.
As dentists we are unable to foretell the future. However, we do have dental training and plenty of experience and knowledge about which teeth are at a greater risk of breaking and we create the treatment plan that is the most predictable, successful and has the least troublesome outcome for your situation in the long run. Give us a call, St. Anthony Village Dental Care at 612-781-9270 to discuss your needs.