Do you need crowns or fillings?

Do you need crowns or fillings?

Crowns and fillings are done to repair a tooth worn down by damage and decay back to its original shape and size.

At your dental appointment, the dentist will do a thorough examination of your teeth, the bone and gums around your teeth, your jaw joints and muscles. He will also take x-rays of the area. 

Depending on your results, the dentist will decide on the proper, most long-term course of action. The toss-up is between doing a filling or crown, which both treat the visible part of the tooth. Both are chosen for different conditions and are two very different restorative procedures. 

Reasons for choosing between fillings or crowns

There are criteria that your dentist uses to determine which options will be most effective. Most people baulk at the cost of crowns which last 5 to 15 years, and they will do their utmost to get by with a filling that is cheaper, with a lifespan of about five years. But that isn’t always the best decision in the long run. 

The determining factors are:

  • Cavity size: If a cavity is just starting, a filling will be recommended. But if the tooth decay has been left untreated, leading to cracks in the tooth, the dentist will suggest a crown. 
  • Condition of the tooth: If the tooth has had many fillings and cracks occur, thereby weakening the tooth, making it impossible to chew or bite properly, or the bacterial infection spreads into the cracks and down into the root, then a crown will be used to restore the tooth. The crown sheilds the tooth from any infection, decay and damage.
  • Broken or cracked tooth: If a tooth is chipped, cracked or broken, then a crown is usually customised to create an even, natural-looking tooth. A filling wouldn’t work as well to restore a cracked tooth, even if the crack is tiny. The crown also serves to prevent further damage and resultant infection.
  • Need for a root canal: When an infection runs deep into the core of the tooth, rendering the tooth hollow and weaker, your dentist will clean out the infection. A root canal is done and a crown formed over the tooth. The tooth is then saved from extraction. 

Restoring with a filling

Fillings are used to repair medium to large cavities when most of the tooth is intact, and there are two or three sturdy supporting walls still standing. An artificial material such as porcelain, composite resin, gold, or silver amalgam is used to prevent further breakage through dental decay.

Usually a straightforward and painless procedure, fillings simply repair that part of the tooth that was damaged to its original structure and size. Fillings don’t provide additional reinforcement to the tooth and can’t prevent long term wear and tear. 

Remember, It is normal not to have symptoms when decay is just starting, explains JMG.  When a tooth like this starts to pain, it may be because the fractures are extending down into the root of the tooth. Unfortunately, extraction could be the best option at that point. Or, the decay could have spread into the pulp of the tooth where the tooth nerve lives. The tooth might be salvageable with a root canal, filling and crown.

Restoring with crowns

The dentist will recommend a crown when the tooth needs to be rebuilt as most of it has disintegrated due to decay, breakage or fractures, Smilefit

Crowns that completely cover the damaged tooth are fabricated from materials like porcelain, metal-fused porcelain, composite resin and gold. They are made to look natural, and they last between 5 to 15 years with proper care. 

Some other features of crowns are:

  • Made from stronger material: Stainless steel crowns are used to cover children’s teeth, while adults choose porcelain crowns for natural aesthetics. These days instead of several visits to the dentist for fittings, all it takes is one visit for a ceramic crown to be made and fitted using digital scanning technology.
  • Protecting teeth from cracking: With large old fillings, the tooth may fracture, and the tooth structure is so weak, the old filling needs to be removed and the tooth prepared and shaped before being covered with a crown. This prevents further cracking.
  • Restoring damaged teeth: Diets high in acids, gastrointestinal disorders and grinding of teeth, especially while sleeping, are all factors which result in erosion of the teeth enamel. This results in small, soft teeth which need a crown to cover and restore it to normal size. 

When it comes to changing the tooth’s appearance, which generally comes in all colours, shapes and sizes, crowns or dental veneers win at enhancing smiles. Their cosmetic range is broad as crowns can be made to suit every worn down and a broken tooth in need of make-over that looks completely natural. 

What happens during dental crowns procedures?

Getting teeth crowned needs anaesthetic. The procedure is similar to when you get fillings, but as mentioned, it is way more expensive. Dental Crowns cost around R3 500 for entry-level crowns and can go as pricey as R12 000.

Getting evaluated

Affinity Dental may cover all or part of the cost. Having reliable dental insurance can really assist with the costs of good dental care. Your specific plan may only cover certain kinds of crowns, though. BE sure to ask for all of your plan’s coverage details. 

The procedure

Your dentist makes a mould of your tooth and sends it off to a technician. The Technician will then prepare the crown. 

You will most likely receive a temporary crown until the permanent crown is ready for you. When your permanent crown is ready, you’ll go back to the dentist for a follow-up, and have it fitted using dental cement or adhesive, says Healthline. Crowns last for years. But there are instances in which crowns have broken off. This can be from wear and tear or poorly fitted crowns. Ensure that you have yours fitted by a licensed professional.

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