Frequently I’m asked the question “why does my tooth need a crown and not a filling”. To answer the crown vs filling question we must drop back a little. Most people know about tooth decay, which is the most common reason I have to work on a tooth, we remove it and fill it, providing we have enough tooth and no cracks, which is the second most common reason I work on a tooth. The enamel or outside of a tooth is extremely hard but very brittle, kind of like glass. The inside of a tooth is Dentin which is like a honeycomb that isn’t so hard but supports the enamel. There must be enough of both or the tooth itself starts to fracture. The fracture can be difficult to deal with because it’s like a crack in your windshield… it usually starts small then gets bigger with time.

If we catch the crack soon enough we can usually stop it from propagating into the nerve or root of the tooth. If not soon enough it requires us to do a root canal or extract the tooth.

The main problem we have to deal with is, “Is the tooth strong enough to hold itself together or do we have to do something to hold it in one piece. We do a filling if the tooth is plenty strong and we see no evidence of existing fractures. If we observe a fracture in the tooth then we need a restoration such as a crown to hold the tooth in one piece. The crown goes around the outside of the tooth and a filling as the name suggests goes in the inside to take up space.

The first photo is a tooth that I noticed some cracking on the back and sides.

The second photo is the same tooth, after I took out the filling. Note the deep cracks going through the middle and across on both sides.

Do you have any questions? Still not sure if you need a crown or a filling? Well, I’m here to help. Contact me at my Chandler, Arizona dental office at (480) 755-1661.