If you’ve ever been told that you needed to have a tooth crowned, one of the first questions you probably asked was, “can I just have it filled, instead?” This is an excellent question as the condition is sometimes confusing.
Here’s what you need to know:
A filling goes inside of your tooth, the crown goes around it
The point of a crown is to encompass the entire remaining tooth and protect it from the external elements. A filling is to patch or repair a small portion inside of a tooth that was damaged due to decay. Compare it to patching a tire and continuing to drive on the worn out tire – eventually the entire tire will need to be replaced. Continuing to patch it across the entire surface could result in serious problems when you’re out on the road.
Chewing pressure needs to be distributed
If a tooth is broken or decayed significantly, placing a large filling in the tooth will not allow the tooth to continue functioning normally. Instead, it places chewing pressure on abnormal points of the tooth – which eventually results in severe fractures. Even after filling it, you may never be able to confidently chew on the tooth because something “doesn’t feel quite right.” By covering the entire tooth with a crown, those chewing pressures can be distributed normally. Using the tooth for normal biting and chewing purposes won’t be a problem, as the tooth’s life is extended by several years.
Putting a crown off for too long could result in tooth loss
Avoiding treatment means the remaining tooth structure will continue to wear or erode, as it is already compromised. This happens at an accelerated pace, since the tooth is structurally unsound. In just a few months’ time, a tooth may eventually reach the point of being non-restorable, because there is not enough healthy tooth structure remaining. The only option left would be to have the tooth removed.
Ask about inlays and onlays
Sometimes a tooth is far beyond the point of being filled, but doesn’t quite have to have a crown. Thanks to restorations called “inlays” and “onlays,” your tooth can be repaired with an option that is also sometimes called a “three-quarter crown.” Dr. Alizadeh offers inlays and onlays in our Sacramento dental office, giving you more flexibility when it comes to restoring your smile. An inlay or onlay rebuilds and repairs a larger portion of your tooth than what is possible with a filling – yet it doesn’t cover the entire tooth all at once. In essence, inlays and onlays help you maximize the little healthy tooth structure that is left before a crown is your only option.
Marconi Dental Group has an in-house dental lab and a master lab technician, so we can create all of your custom crowns, inlays and onlays right here in our office. Schedule an exam with Dr. Alizadeh today to learn more.