March 12th, 2021
One of the most common decisions our patients and doctors at Cedar Spring Family Dentistry make is how to treat a large lesion on a tooth. Lesions can be caused by decay, fracture, or a missing tooth structure. The treatment for a situation like this often involves restoring the affected area with a filling or crown.
Many of the cases that arise are straight-forward, where small defects will require small restorations with a simple composite filling, while larger defects require stronger ceramics or gold to restore with confidence.
The patient photos that you see here reveal a very common situation: a tooth with a large existing filling defect. If, for instance, we used a crown restoration treatment for this patient, it would surround the existing structure in a predictable way and provide structure, support and a natural aesthetic to restore the area. Alternatively, doing nothing could often lead to fracture and tooth loss.
In this blog, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of crown vs filling treatments to help patients make a more informed decision for their oral health. Here are the pros and cons for the situations where larger defects are present:
Crowns are full-coverage ceramic caps that are bonded to a remaining tooth structure. Crowns provide full-functioning superior strength, and are usually 3-5 times stronger than composites. They offer a natural aesthetic appearance and are considered more durable than fillings. For instance, most insurance companies expect a well-cared for crown to last 5-7 years.
While crowns do cost more upfront, if you consider their expected duration, the fee is actually much lower compared to large composite restorations.
You’ll also find that crowns also offer better comfort overall. Their smoother margins and contacts between the teeth allow for more comfort in the gums and less tendency for food packing.
Crowns do involve longer appointment times, usually 30-45 minutes longer than a filling, because of the degree of restoration involved. Additionally, more of the tooth structure is removed in preparation for the restoration.
Fillings replace a damaged tooth structure with tooth-colored composite resin. These composite restorations have their own share of benefits. With fillings, less of the tooth is removed prior to restoration. The appointment time for the restoration is shorter, plus you’ll also find a lower up-front cost with fillings.
Fillings, do have a higher frequency of failure, which often leads to replacement or even the need to “upgrade” to a crown. Their weaker structure also allows for leaking, increased chance of a fracture or tooth pain as a biproduct. Additionally, aesthetics and comfort are more difficult to obtain.
Composite restorations tend to have staining in the margins over a shorter period of time. You’ll also find more food packing occurs between teeth with fillings.
While fees for the stronger restorations are higher; your value, comfort, and years of service are greatly increased by the upfront investment.
Give our Cedar Spring office a call to set up an appointment. Drs. Birch and Richards are all happy to discuss your needs and help you make the best decision for your oral health!