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When do you need a crown vs filling

When Do You Need a Crown Vs Filling? Making the Right Choice

In most cases, people always want a healthy and beautiful-looking smile. But if they have dental issues that ruin their appearance, they can always choose between a crown vs filling. While both may fix your teeth, they also have differences you need to be aware of.

With this guide, you can learn the factors that influence whether a dental crown or filling is the right option, learn the pros and cons of each, and encourage readers to seek professional advice to make the right dental choice.

Before choosing between filling vs crown, let’s understand each of them.

What Are Dental Crowns?

Dental crowns are custom-made caps that fit over your teeth. Dentists can craft them from a variety of materials, including porcelain, metal or a combination of the two. This treatment is versatile, as crowns serve a dual purpose: they can improve the appearance of teeth and provide structural support. When properly cared for, dental crowns can last a long time with very minimal chances of breaking.

Here are some of its pros and cons if you plan on getting dental crowns.


  • Restorative Functionality. Crowns restore a tooth’s structure and function, enabling the patient to bite and chew without pain or discomfort.
  • Aesthetically Pleasing. They are custom-made to match the color and shape of the natural teeth, making them a cosmetically appealing option.
  • Durability. Crowns can endure extensive use and last 5 to 15 years or more, depending on their material and how well the person maintains them.
  • Tooth Protection. They protect a weak tooth from damage or potential fracture and can be used to support large fillings that lack substantial tooth structure.
  • Minimal Tooth Prep Required. The procedure often requires less tooth reduction than other restorative options, such as veneers.


  • Cost. Crowns may be a costly dental procedure, especially if the material isn’t high quality or requires a dental laboratory for fabrication.
  • Multiple Visits Required. Receiving a dental crown involves at least two dental visits, which may be time-consuming for some patients.
  • Potential for Sensitivity. After placement, some patients may experience temporary sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages.
  • Irreversible Process: The dentist will alter the natural tooth to fit into a dental crown, a step they can’t easily reverse. Patients who prefer more conservative treatments should consider this carefully before fully committing.

What Are Dental Fillings?

Dental fillings are a restorative procedure that addresses cavities caused by tooth decay. They are often the first line of defense against small to medium areas of decay, restoring the tooth’s structure and preventing the spread of further damage.

Fillings come in several types, such as:

  • Durable amalgam fillings
  • Tooth-colored composite resin fillings
  • Ceramic fillings
  • Gold fillings

Just like with dental crowns, there are also advantages and disadvantages of getting dental fillings.


  • Restores and Maintains Tooth Structure. Dental fillings restore the natural form and function of teeth damaged by cavities or trauma. They also prevent the spread of decay and maintain the tooth’s integrity, preserving the overall structure.
  • Prevents Infection and Tooth Loss. By sealing the cavity, fillings prevent further decay and the potential for a bacterial infection. This can help prevent more extensive, costly and potentially painful treatments, such as root canals or extractions.
  • Improve Chewing and Speech. Damaged teeth can affect your ability to eat properly and speak clearly. Fillings can help strengthen your teeth so you can chew normally and improve proper speech functions.
  • Aesthetic Improvement. Modern dental materials offer aesthetic improvements. Tooth-colored fillings blend in with the natural tooth, making them virtually invisible. This improves the appearance of a smile ruined by visible fillings.


  • Potential for Sensitivity and Discomfort. After a filling, you may experience discomfort or sensitivity to hot and cold foods or pressure. This is usually temporary, but in some cases, it can last longer or indicate a problem with the filling placement.
  • Allergic Reactions to Filling Materials. In rare instances, a patient may have an allergic reaction to the materials used in a dental filling, which results in various symptoms such as rashes, itching, or, in extreme cases, anaphylaxis.
  • Durability and Longevity. While fillings can be long-lasting, they aren’t permanent. Over time, they may wear down, chip or crack, requiring replacement. Factors such as the size, material, and location in the mouth influence the durability of a filling.
  • Potential for Fractures and Tooth Weakening. Sometimes, filling a cavity can weaken the tooth if there’s a large portion of decay on the tooth structure. This could cause fractures or the need for more extensive dental work.

Crown Vs Filling: When Do You Need Them?

Dental Crown

Nobody can get a dental crown right away as they still need to consult a dentist and determine whether they are eligible for the treatment. However, you can find several signs that will require you to get crowns.

1. Tooth Damage or Decay

One sign you need a dental crown is when your teeth have extensive tooth damage or decay. If your dentist discovers that your tooth has significant decay or fractures, they may recommend a dental crown.

2. Root Canal Procedure

Your dentist will most likely recommend a dental crown if you’ve recently undergone a root canal procedure. The procedure leaves the tooth hollow, making it more susceptible to breakage. The crown can also protect the tooth from damage, ensuring it remains healthy and intact.

3. Cosmetic Enhancement

Dental crowns are not just for health concerns but also a major part of cosmetic dentistry. If you have a tooth that is discolored, misshapen, or not as attractive as you’d like, a crown can help improve its appearance.

4. Dental Implant or Bridge

A dental crown is necessary when getting a dental implant or a bridge. The crown acts as a replacement for the missing tooth in these procedures, giving you a natural-looking and durable tooth replacement.

5. Tooth Erosion

Tooth erosion is a condition where the enamel wears away due to too much acid or teeth grinding. Getting a dental crown can cover the eroded tooth, giving it extra strength and preserving its structure.

6. Unsuccessful Filling

If your tooth has recently had many fillings and there’s little of it left, a crown can help to restore your tooth. A larger filling can make the tooth weak and vulnerable to damage. In this situation, a dental crown can offer more protection and longevity than a filling alone.

Dental Filling

Like dental crowns, you have to know when to get dental fillings. Doing so ensures the treatment process will go smoothly and help you bring back healthier teeth. Here are several signs that it’s time to get dental fillings.

1. Cavity Detection

The right moment to get dental fillings is when you have too many cavities. When oral bacteria turn sugars into acid, it damages your tooth enamel, which leads to decay. When the decay erodes through the enamel to the underlying dentin, it forms a cavity. Untreated cavities can lead to extreme pain, infection, and tooth loss.

2. Fractured or Broken Teeth

Accidents or biting down on hard substances can cause your teeth to break or fracture. Fillings are not just for cavities; they also repair these damaged teeth and restore their functionality.

3. Worn Teeth

Certain habits like teeth grinding (bruxism), nail-biting or chewing hard foods can cause your teeth to wear down over time. If you have worn teeth, your dentist may suggest fillings to fix and protect them against damage.

4. Replacing Old Filling

Over time, dental fillings can break, crack, or wear down. When this happens, you’ll need a replacement filling to prevent bacteria from getting into the spaces and causing decay.

5. Cosmetic Consideration

In some instances, dentists may suggest dental fillings to improve the appearance of discolored or misshapen teeth. If you’re unhappy with the look of your teeth, it may be time to consult a dentist and talk to them to get you a dental filling.

6. Teeth Sensitivity

If you’re experiencing sensitivity while eating or drinking hot and cold, or sweet food and beverages, getting a dental filling might help. This sensitivity can be an early sign of tooth decay, and addressing the issue can save you from future discomfort.

What Factors Should You Consider Before You Opt for Dental Crown or Filling?

Extent of Tooth Decay or Damage

The severity and extent of tooth decay or damage determine the right treatment. A filling may suffice if the decay is limited to a small portion of the tooth. However, if the decay is severe or the tooth is structurally compromised, you may need a crown to provide better support and protection.


If decay or damage is visible in the front teeth, aesthetics become an important consideration. In such cases, dentists may recommend tooth-colored fillings as they blend seamlessly with the natural enamel. However, if there’s extensive damage, you may need a dental crown to restore the tooth’s appearance effectively.


Dental crowns are generally more durable and long-lasting compared to fillings. If you’re looking for a fix that will withstand the test of time, you may consider getting a dental crown.

Cost Implication

Dental crowns are generally more expensive compared to fillings. Therefore, you should consider your budget before opting for either of the two. You may also want to check if your insurance covers all or a portion of the cost.

The Procedure Time

A dental crown procedure typically takes longer and requires at least two visits to the dentist. Getting a crown includes removing the outer portion of your tooth, taking impressions, and fitting the permanent crown. Dental fillings, on the other hand, can normally be completed in a single visit.

Your Oral Health

You should also consider your overall dental health. A dental crown might be necessary for additional support if you have a weak tooth. Furthermore, your dentist might recommend a crown over a filling if you are at high risk for tooth decay.

Make the Right Dental Choice With Sugarloaf Smiles

If you’ve recently asked yourself, “When do you need a crown vs filling?” You should consult with Sugarloaf Smiles in Duluth, GA. We can evaluate your dental condition and recommend the most appropriate treatment. Remember, maintaining good oral health through regular dental check-ups and proper care can help preserve your natural teeth and enjoy a healthy smile.

Contact our dental office as soon as possible to schedule an appointment and discuss which treatment you’ll need.

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Dr. George Zohrabyan

Dr. George grew up in Decatur, Georgia and attended Fernbank Elementary. When his family moved to Roswell, GA he rigorously involved himself in various community service projects. It was here that he realized his passion for helping others would define his career path.

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