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When one of your teeth is in need of repair, one of the decisions you and the dentist will make is how to repair it: a tooth filling or dental crown. There’s a big difference between the two and the recommendation will be based on the condition of your tooth and which treatment will give you the best outcome and longterm health.

If your tooth has a simple cavity from tooth decay, chances are that a filling would be the choice for treatment. Filling material starts out soft so it can flow into the cleaned out cavity, then hardens with a curing light once it’s placed inside the tooth. A filling is successful when there is enough remaining healthy tooth structure along the outside walls to give it support.

If tooth decay is more extensive and has eroded the outside walls so they’ve become fragile, a crown can be placed around the outside of your tooth to give it strength and structure so it will function well. If your tooth is broken or has a crack, or placing a large filling would leave the tooth more likely to crack, repairing your tooth with a supportive crown is the best treatment.

The teeth in this photo are in need of repair. Can you guess which ones could have a filling and which ones would benefit from a crown?

Your dentist will recommend treatment that will last you the longest with the least risk for future problems. However, fillings and crowns do not last forever and will need to be replaced in the future. One component of your routine dental hygiene exam is to monitor the health of your fillings and crowns. And your good dental care at home can help prolong the lifespan of your dental restorations.

If you have a question about dental crowns or fillings, we are happy to discuss.