Dental Crowns Or Filling: Which Is Best For Your Teeth?

Dental Crowns Or Filling

When you experience a toothache and you need immediate treatment, you and the dentist should decide how to repair them best by choosing between a dental crown or a tooth filling. There is a difference between the two, and the decision will be based on the tooth’s condition and which treatment provides the most effective solution. If your tooth has a simple cavity from tooth decay, your dentist will recommend filling as the best treatment. When the tooth decay is immense and it has destroyed the outside walls, your tooth becomes weak, the dentist can fix a crown around the tooth to provide a structure to strengthen it and function well.

Basically, fillings treat minor or straightforward tooth decay and damage, while dental crowns treat severely damaged teeth. However, crowns and fillings do not last forever and need to be replaced after a while. So, from time to time, monitor the health of your fillings and crowns and inform your dentist regarding their status. For more information on different dental treatments, visit to understand more.

Here are some pieces of information regarding dental crowns and fillings that you need to know:

Dental Crowns Or Filling

Defining Dental Crowns 

Dental crowns are also known as dental caps. Crowns help prevent future decay by covering the entire tooth. They are also used to rebuild broken or cracked teeth. Crowns are preferred for teeth with extensive cavities or decay, teeth with cracked tooth syndrome, or teeth that have undergone root canal therapy. 

Crowns are made from resin, porcelain, ceramic, fused metal, or gold. They are designed in the lab to suit the patient’s teeth, and they feel and look natural. The dentist first removes any old fillings or decay when fixing a crown. The space is then filled with composite material, and a temporary dental crown is placed over it. However, after some time, the patient comes back for a second appointment where the dentist replaces the temporary crown with a permanent one. 

Unlike fillings, fixing crowns is time-consuming as you need to make two visits rather than one and it’s expensive depending on the materials used. The average cost of a crown is about USD$800 to USD$1800, while a filling might cost USD$50 to USD$250. 

Defining Dental Fillings 

When a tooth has a simple cavity from tooth decay, the proper treatment is a dental filling. Cavities are also called dental caries and are caused by bacteria. If flossing and brushing don’t clean all the bacteria, the bacteria will eventually eat away the tooth’s enamel leaving a hole. Fillings work by covering cavities with a composite material that hardens and prevents further damage.

Dentists numb the cavity and drill out the decayed part of the tooth. They later fill the hole using composite resin, porcelain, gold, or silver amalgam. The procedure is short compared to a dental crown, and it’s painless. Fillings are the best solution when the cavities are small. Once the cavity is filled, it stops the progression to tooth decay. This procedure prevents the bacteria from spreading and restores the tooth’s normal function. However, just like the crown procedure, the filling doesn’t last forever but can last for a decade when properly maintained.

Nevertheless, the filling doesn’t enclose the tooth, it only covers and protects the affected area of the cavity. If the damage is extensive, the filling can only cover the cavity and remove decay, but the tooth can be prone to fracture. Fractures are a mess as they can lead to tooth loss and possibly a dying nerve, thus requiring a root canal or extraction.

Factors That Determines The Choice Of Dental Crown Or Filling 

Sometimes there’s no argument about dental crowns and fillings. A simple cavity is for filling, while a large cavity is an automatic candidate for a crown. However, other situations are not always explicit but below are factors that will help you determine the choice of dental crown or filling.

Tooth Condition

When the cavity is small, your dentist easily removes the decay and covers the tooth with a dental filling. However, when a tooth has more filling than the actual tooth, getting a crown is recommended. This is because the tooth will be unstable, and with time it can weaken, thus being unable to support normal chewing and biting. This can lead to tooth fractures, causing pain and stress around the teeth and jaw.

A tooth with several small fillings or one large filling is at risk of pulpitis. Pulpitis is when the bacteria penetrate the tooth root causing an infection. However, a crown encloses the tooth and can stop the bacteria from going further. For those with fillings who are lucky not to have pulpitis, a crown can prevent it, but a root canal is preferable if pulpitis already exists. 

Cavity Size

The size of the cavity is another factor that decides the choice of a dental crown or filling. The longer a cavity is untreated, the more extensive it becomes. If the cavity is detected early, a filling is good enough, but if the cavity occupies a large part of the tooth, the dentist suggests a dental crown. Especially if the tooth is made up of much more filling than the actual tooth and there’s no more space to drill and fill.

Broken Or Cracked Teeth

A crown is well designed to look and feel like a real tooth. Therefore, it can be an effective solution for a chipped, cracked, or broken tooth. Small cracks may be unnoticeable but they can allow bacteria to destroy the enamel. A crack can also affect the integrity and strength of the tooth. 

For a cracked or broken tooth, a filling may be impractical regardless of the severity of its condition. The dentist should recommend a crown to protect the tooth from further damage. Crowns are also a practical solution for chipped or broken teeth as they eliminate chances of decay and restore a patient’s dental health.

Root Canal

Crowns are essential steps in root canal treatment. It involves hollowing and removing the decay in the tooth, and filling it with composite material before enclosing it with a crown. 

Besides extraction, doing the root canal and enclosing it with a dental crown is the only possible way to do it. If not, a missing tooth can lead to the movement of the other teeth, jaw issues, and an incomplete smile. That said, a crown can save the tooth, and the patient can get back to normal after the procedure.

General Differences Between Dental Crown And Filling

If you have a fractured or weakened tooth, your dentist will recommend a crown or a filling. They are often used interchangeably, but it’s always better to use one over the other. Crowns and fillings are the most used treatments to treat tooth decay. Therefore, learning the fundamental differences helps you narrow down which is best for you.

But first, it’s essential to know the difference between fillings and crowns. A crown is a device cemented around the tooth to provide strength and coverage to a tooth, and a filling is a composite material cemented into a tooth to replace the damaged structure.

 In a nutshell, crowns are best when:

  • Your tooth is weak: Fixing it with a crown protects it from further damage, thus, you can avoid dentures and dental implants.
  • The cavity size is enormous: A filling can’t protect the tooth for long. If a large portion of the tooth requires a filling, a crown can be a suitable solution. A filling can cover the cavity and remove decay, but the tooth is at risk of fractures and pulpitis with time. Fixing a crown earlier can save costs and additional visits later.
  • Your tooth is cracked: A crown can help fix a cracked or chipped tooth as it holds the tooth together and resembles a regular tooth. A cracked tooth can’t heal, and a crown is an effective way to hold the tooth together and prevent further damage. 

Fillings are best when:

  • The cavity or decayed area is small: Filling is effective for minor tooth repair.
  • There are no cracks: Fillings aren’t commended for cracked teeth. The filling’s job is to repair and replace the tooth’s damaged structure and relies on the tooth’s strength.
  • Cost is an issue: Fillings cost between USD$50 to USD$250, while crowns cost USD$800 to USD$1800. In addition, crowns are expensive since they require two dental visits.  

Nevertheless, don’t compromise your dental health because of the crown’s cost or an additional visit. If a tooth isn’t correctly repaired, it can cost more later when it worsens and would demand a root canal, bridge, or extraction.


The most effective way to maintain a healthy dental smile is not to ignore tooth pain. Dental pain is a sign that you require to visit your dentist.

Knowing all your options is very important if you have tooth damage or cavities. Before choosing a procedure for treatment, it’s important to discuss some factors with your dentist. Some issues to discuss include the severity of the cavity or tooth decay and the solution’s durability. Additionally, the budget of the procedure, your current oral health, and the proper protection that will sustain your tooth long-term should also be considered. 

When it comes to dental health, it’s important to get it right. Crowns and fillings have different roles in repairing a damaged tooth. When you meet the dentist, they will recommend the most practical option between a dental crown and a dental filling and restore your tooth to its normal state.