To someone unfamiliar with dental terms or treatments, a crown and a filling may seem interchangeable. They are both used to repair teeth, right? However, the reality is that these are different restorations that you need to understand. Keep reading to learn how crowns and fillings are unique and how they can help your smile get back on track to full health.
Difference #1: Materials
In the past, fillings used to be made of a metallic alloy, but tooth-colored fillings have long become the industry standard. This filling material, called composite resin, is composed of dental plastic with ceramic particles. In contrast, dental crowns these days typically consist of porcelain or metal fused to porcelain. As such, they reflect light just like tooth enamel.
Difference #2: Process
In addition to being made of different substances, filling and crowns involve very different steps to complete treatment. They both start with removing any decayed or damaged tooth structure, but after that, they deviate from each other.
The Filling Process
The composite resin, which is colored to look just like the shade of enamel, is like a putty at first, allowing the dentist to fill in the missing tooth structure with however much is necessary. They sculpt the resin into a natural shape, and then a curing light shines on the composite resin, instantly hardening it. The dentist then makes the surface smooth to replicate a real tooth.
The Dental Crown Process
In cases where the tooth has sustained more extensive damage, root canal therapy may be required. After this treatment, impressions are taken of the upper and lower teeth. For more advanced practices, these impressions are digitally taken, which means a 3D model of the patient’s mouth is created on screen within minutes. From these impressions, a custom crown is designed and milled specifically to fit comfortably and naturally within the patient’s bite.
Difference #3: Longevity
In general, crowns tend to last much longer than fillings, depending on how well they are maintained. While fillings need to be replaced about every 5 to 10 years, crowns can still be in good condition up to 20 years later.
Similarity: Time Commitment
Overall, the filling process can usually be finished in one appointment, while getting a dental traditionally takes two. New CEREC technology enables some dentists to provide a custom crown on the same day as treatment, which not only saves everyone valuable time, but it allows the patient to walk out of the dentist’s office with a functional, realistic crown within just one appointment.
Ultimately, whether you need a crown or a filling, you can rely on these restorations to rebuild your smile after decay or injury. Understanding the differences can help you know what to expect moving forward.
About the Practice
Pioneer Greens Dentistry has been locally owned and operated for more than 20 years. Dr. Chris and Dr. Claire Haag still see patients, but Dr. Justin Shirk carries on the high standard of care that patients have come to expect with every appointment. In our Lincoln office, he takes advantage of CEREC technology, which allows him to offer same-day crowns. If you have questions about restorations, you may reach out to us online or call our team at 402-483-7502 for more information.