Dental decay is a common problem. Fortunately, it’s typically an easy fix. We’ll usually suggest a filling or crown. Both of them have their advantages – and possible disadvantages. As with any issue, your dentist will take multiple factors into consideration. He’ll explain all of your possible options to you and answer any questions you have.

There are several criteria to consider. One of the most important is the size of your cavity. If it’s small, a filling may be sufficient. However, a crown may be necessary to restore your tooth’s strength and function for a larger cavity. 

Other criteria include

  • Extent of Damage: If your tooth is cracked, broken, or severely decayed, a crown will likely be needed to protect the tooth and stop further damage. A filling simply can’t fix that kind of damage. 
  • Longevity: Crowns are generally more durable than fillings and can last up to 15 years or more with proper care. Fillings, on the other hand, may need to be replaced every 5-10 years.
  • Cost: Crowns are typically more costly than fillings. However, they may be covered by insurance if they are deemed medically necessary.

The Pros and Cons of Fillings

Fillings are less invasive than crowns, meaning your dentist doesn’t have to remove as much dental structure from your tooth to place a filling. In addition, they cost less than crowns and can be completed in one visit.

Dental fillings may not be strong enough for large cavities, and they are not as effective as crowns for repairing cracks or breaks. They typically need to be replaced more frequently than crowns.

The Pros and Cons of Crowns

One of the biggest advantages of crowns is their versatility. They can restore strength and function to severely damaged teeth. When attached to a dental implant, a single crown can even be used to replace a missing tooth. They also work well to conceal cosmetic issues such as misshapen teeth or severely stained teeth. They almost always last longer than a filling, up to 15 years or more. 

Crowns are more invasive than fillings, though. So more modification of your tooth will be needed. They cost more than fillings. They also typically require two visits to complete the treatment. During your first visit, your dentist will prepare the tooth and take digital impressions to send to a lab. You’ll receive a temporary crown to wear while your restoration is made at the lab. You’ll return to our office once that crown is ready, to have it placed. 

More Information to Consider

In some cases, your dentist may recommend an inlay or an onlay. They cover more of your tooth than a filling but less than a crown. So they can work well for “in between” dental repairs. An inlay covers the area of your tooth between its cusps. The onlay extends onto the side of your tooth. 

For tooth fillings, we use only composite. This material is shaded to match your other teeth, so it blends in beautifully with your smile. 

Unlike metal fillings, composite also doesn’t contain mercury. Dr. Sommer has a degree in chemical engineering and worked as an engineer before becoming a dentist. During that time, he became acutely aware of the possible health impacts of many substances. This made him critical of some of the materials used in dentistry, including mercury. He is a member of the International Academy of Biological Dentistry and Medicine

In addition to a possible negative impact on your health, mercury affects the environment. Studies show that even with filtration systems designed for safe disposal of waste from fillings, some mercury gets into waste water. That means it ultimately ends up in our food, such as fish. 

Dr. Sommer is certified in the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology’s Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique (SMART). This involves safely removing your amalgam fillings, without exposing you to particles of mercury or vapors from it.

Whether you need a filling or crown, you’ll get terrific care from the Springs Dentist team. For an appointment in Colorado Springs, CO, call us today at 719-249-5796