What’s the Difference between Dental Crowns and Fillings?

By Rafael Mercado, DDS on June 25, 2021

Both dental crowns and fillings repair damage caused by cavities, and both dental crowns and fillings are applied to a single decayed tooth. While crowns and fillings have some similarities, they are quite different.

During a consultation at Castle Hills Family Dental in Castle Hills, TX, Dr. Rafael Mercado can examine your damaged or decayed tooth and determine whether a dental crown or filling is appropriate. Dr. Mercado offers the latest treatment options to protect damaged teeth and prevent further damage.

When Do You Need a Filling? 

Dental fillings work best on minor to moderate cavities, and are used to return the tooth to its original shape and function. To place a filling, our dentist will:

  1. Remove the decayed tissue
  2. Clean the tooth thoroughly
  3. Rebuild and seal the space with a filling

The decayed tooth can typically be filled in one visit. Dental fillings cannot fix teeth with extensive damage or decay.

When Do You Need a Crown?

Dental crowns are a versatile treatment used to treat moderate to severe dental decay and dental damage. To place a crown, Dr. Mercado will remove the decayed or damaged tissue from the tooth and prepare the tooth for a permanent crown. While most crowns are typically placed over the span of two appointments, we use CEREC® technology to create and place crowns in one visit.

How Filling and Crown Materials Are Different

Fillings are small pieces that are molded to the areas of the tooth that need to be filled. Most dental fillings are metal (gold or silver) or color-matched composite resin (a combination of plastic and fine glass particles).

Dental crowns cover the entire visible portion of the tooth. At our location in Castle Hills, TX, we offer a variety of crown materials to fit nearly any budget:

  • Porcelain: Color-matched to the surrounding teeth, these ceramic crowns can be created same-day with a CEREC machine or sent off-site to a dental lab.
  • IPS e.max®: These crowns are known for their extremely natural-looking appearance.
  • Zirconia: Zirconia crowns have a highly lifelike appearance but are just as strong as metal crowns.

Differences in Aesthetics and Strength

Dental fillings are ideal for patients with teeth that are still structurally strong. Fillings rely on the tooth’s strength to do their job. Dental fillings will not work on extremely damaged teeth or weakened teeth. They typically last up to 10 years but will likely need to be replaced before then.

A dental crown is like a permanent helmet for your tooth. After shaving down the natural tooth, our dentist will place the crown over the entire tooth to protect the remaining dental tissue. Crowns look just like natural teeth, so they can also improve the look of damanged teeth. With proper care, permanent dental crowns can also last up to a decade or more.

Cost Differences

Fillings are more affordable than crowns. However, they only repair slightly damaged teeth. Dental crowns are more expensive than fillings, but they can repair more serious cases of damage or decay. Most dental insurances cover part or all costs associated with both of these restorative procedures.

Fix Damaged or Decayed Teeth Today

If you have more questions about which treatment is more suitable for your needs, contact our office by calling (210) 405-1257 or messaging us online to schedule a consultation at our Castle Hills, TX, location.