Crowns and fillings are both types of dental restorations that can be used to repair a tooth that has been chipped or damaged by decay. Typically, small restorations call for a filling and a crown is placed when so much of the tooth has been removed that it would not be structurally sound with just a filling in it.
In some cases, the damage falls in the middle of these two alternatives and your dentist will give you the option of whether to restore the tooth with a dental filling or to place a crown. A filling will be far less expensive and can be completed in a single visit, but a crown has some significant advantages that should be considered before making a decision.
The main advantage of a crown is that the result will be a much stronger tooth that should last a long time. A filling is placed within the walls of the tooth and relies on the tooth for strength and support. If the tooth has been removed, the walls will be thin and there is a significant likelihood that the tooth wall will eventually crack. If the filling occupies an entire corner of the tooth, there is less tooth material for the filling to adhere to.
A crown is like a cup placed over the top of the tooth. Unlike a filling, a crown if made in a dental lab outside the mouth and is made of more durable material than a filling. In addition, a crown has more tooth area to adhere to than a large filling and is less likely to come off.
If given the option between a crown and a filling, you will need to weight the risk that the filling will cause the tooth to crack, further damaging the tooth and requiring additional dental work against the cost of a crown. If you go with the large filling and the tooth cracks, you will end up paying significantly more than going forward with the crown in the first place.
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