Dental bondings (also known as fillings) and dental crowns are both methods for repairing damaged teeth. They are one of the most common dental procedures other than routine cleanings that we do here at Blackstone Family Dentistry, but many patients are confused about the differences between them and when one might be used vs the other.

To help alleviate some of that confusion, we’ve provided some information about bondings and crowns below. If you still have questions, feel free to contact our office for answers.

What are Dental Crowns?

A crown is simply a cap, in the shape of a tooth, that is placed over a weakened or damaged tooth to protect it.  It may also be used to cover a dental implant, to cover a cavity that is too big for a filling, or for cosmetic reasons (for example, to cover a discolored or misshapen tooth).

Crowns can be made from many materials, such as ceramics, porcelain, metal alloys, or composite resin.

The procedure to install a crown is fairly straightforward:

  • The dentist prepares the tooth by removing the outer portion so that it will fit the crown, and possibly removing any decay if it is present.
  • An impression of the tooth is made using molding or a digital scan.
  • The crown is prepared using the impression, which can take up to two weeks.  Sometimes patients are given a temporary crown during this time.
  • The new crown is placed in your mouth and adjusted for proper appearance, and then cemented into place.

The crown is usually colored so that it matches the color of a tooth.  Once installed, you’ll need to care for the crown as you would a tooth, since they can crack just like teeth and the tooth underneath the crown can still get a cavity.

While crowns are often the best option for protecting a damaged or weakened tooth, there are other options, including fillings.  The staff of Blackstone Family Dentistry will be able to advise you on all your options and recommend the one we think is best, and why.

What are Dental Bondings (Fillings)?

A filling, also sometimes referred to as a bonding, is material used to fill a cavity in a tooth to restore it to normal function. Several different types of materials are commonly used in fillings, such as gold, silver, composite, and porcelain. Gold and porcelain fillings last the longest but are also the most expensive, whereas composite fillings are the least expensive but can chip over time and will need to be replaced after 3-10 years.

The procedure to fill a cavity is very simple and usually takes less than an hour. First, the dentist will use a numbing agent on your gums and teeth around the cavity to minimize pain or discomfort during the procedure. Then, the dentist will drill out the decayed area of the tooth and replace it with a filling using one of the materials described above.

Once the procedure is complete, you will be able to care for the tooth as you normally would, only in some cases you may need toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth.

Fillings vs Crowns

Both fillings and crowns are used to repair damaged teeth, but some situations lend themselves more to one option than another.  We’ll be able to tell you which option is the best for your situation, but here are some general guidelines.

  • Fillings are generally used with smaller cavities or minor damage to a tooth.
  • Crowns are used with large cavities or major damage to a tooth.
  • Crowns can also sometimes be used for cosmetic reasons.
  • Sometimes, a filling is used in conjunction with a crown.  Also, sometimes a filling will be used initially but a crown may still be required later.

Frequently Asked Questions about Dental Bondings and Crowns

We get many questions about dental bondings and crowns from our patients.  Here are some of the most frequently asked along with the answers.

Will my insurance cover the procedure for installing fillings or crowns?

That depends on your insurance policy.  Sometimes the entire cost of the procedure will be covered, but often only a portion will be covered and the patient will be responsible for the rest.  The type of materials used will affect the cost, which may determine whether the full cost will be covered by insurance.

Does the procedure hurt?

Before installing a filling or crown, the dentist will numb the affected area to minimize pain and discomfort.  Most patients don’t experience any pain during the procedure.

How long do fillings last?

That depends on the material used for the filling.  Gold and porcelain last the longest but are more expensive.  Composite fillings are cheaper but may only last 3-10 years.