Dental Crown vs Dental Filling: Why can’t my Dentist just fill my tooth?

18 Sep

When a dentist tells you that you need a dental crown, and you find out how much money it costs to do a crown, many people ask: “why can’t you just fill it instead?”.  But “filling” a tooth that really needs a crown is kind of like getting a facial when you need a cancerous mole removed on your face.  It’s doing the wrong thing at a time when more aggressive action is needed to give you longevity.

Why a dental crown vs a filling?

When a dentist recommends a dental crown vs filling, it is likely for one of the following reasons.

(1) if a tooth has had a root canal treatment, it is more likely to fracture (in fact, MUCH more likely) and when it does, it needs to be extracted.  A crown reduces the chances of fracture, and protects the tooth so you can keep using it for years to come

(2) if a tooth has a large existing filling in it, and has either decay or cracks present, a crown is recommended to protect the tooth from further damage.  If the tooth is not crowned, and the crack or decay gets bigger (which it always does over time), the tooth can break and become non-restorable, meaning you would need an extraction and an implant, which is way more expensive than a crown

(3) if you grind or have excessive wear on a tooth, which exposes the underlying dentin (which is very weak), your dentist may recommend a crown to protect the tooth from further damage, which is like fixing a crack in your home foundation before it propagates through the whole house and causes a major problem down the line.

(4) there are many other reasons, including aesthetic reasons, where your dentist recommends a crown so feel free to discuss your options with your dentist, but know that if a crown is recommended, you are not doing yourself any favours by “filling” it in the meantime.

Just “fill it” is not a good solution when you need a dental crown

I often compare a filling when you are told you need a crown to a facial when you are told you need a cancerous mole removed because I feel it makes a similar point.  Doing the wrong thing that has nothing to do with treating the problem just to make you feel good in the current moment is actually making it worse.  By doing a filling when you really need a crown, it may make you “feel better” because you feel like you are doing “something”, when in fact you are allowing a small problem to grow unseen until it becomes too big to fix and you suffer much greater consequences in the future.  And by then, it’s too late and you may blame your dentist for the costs involved, when in fact it could have been prevented by a simple procedure years before.

Dental Crown vs filling – when it seems expensive now, it will be even more expensive later on

If you think a dental crown is expensive now and you want to “just fill it”, you may find yourself paying tenfold in a few years if you do the wrong treatment.  If you dentist tells you that you need a crown and it seems expensive, just remember that an implant, or going without your teeth may be a much greater price to pay later on.

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