A dental crown is typically chosen over a filling when there is not enough tooth structure to support a direct restoration like a filling. Fillings are a great restorative dentistry procedure if the cavity is small enough, but there are some situations where a simple filling will not do the job and will end up costing the patient more in the long term.
I understand a patient's desire to get the most cost-effective option to achieve their oral health needs. But the most important thing to consider is what will achieve your oral health goals. Getting a filling that breaks in 3 months is not a desirable result.
Most fillings are placed in the biting surfaces of back teeth. If you were looking down on a tooth and opened up the center, you would basically have a bowl shape. If the walls of the bowl are thick enough, then the bowl will hold just fine. If the walls of the bowl are too thin, then there is the risk of them breaking.
If you are lucky, you get a clean horizontal fracture. This means the break is to the side and not straight down the tooth. In this situation, the tooth is restorable, and a crown can be put on the tooth in most cases. On the other hand, if the tooth has a vertical fracture (up and down) you could end up losing the tooth. This would be from the fracture going down into the root area.
Waiting for the tooth to break first is a little bit of a gamble. Depending on the size and shape of the filling, the risk of a vertical or horizontal fracture is different. In general, it is better to prevent a problem before it starts, rather than wait for additional damage to the tooth and try to fix the situation after the fact.
If your tooth is starting to hurt, this can mean that the infection is getting closer and closer to the nerve. As the infection gets larger, the chances of you needing additional services to save the tooth increase. This could include core build-up to help rebuild the center of the tooth, or a root canal if the nerve has gotten infected.
We want to have our teeth to chew. When a crown is made, it will be designed by a lab technician for proper anatomy, so it not only looks great but will be easy to clean and your bite will line up correctly.
Your dentist will still be able to carve anatomy in your filling but it will not be as easy in an extremely large filling to carve the same detail that a lab technician can make outside the mouth.
Because a lab technician can look at your crown from all angles in the lab, it is easier for them to create more ideal anatomy. Many times, when a crown is done for functional or decay reasons, it comes back looking far better than the natural tooth. This is because other cosmetic aspects of the tooth were correct while creating the crown.
If you have questions about your treatment plan, please make sure to speak to your dentist. At We Care Dental Care in Roanoke, we strive to not only explain what needs to be done but also why. Contact our practice online or give us a call at 540-427-7274 to schedule an appointment.