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  • Writer's pictureDr. T.J. Emmer

Dental Filling to Full Crown: Understanding the Array of Treatment Options

When something happens to one of your teeth, whether it’s a cavity, a chip or a break, or maybe just erosion from grinding and wear and tear, you and your provider can choose from a variety of treatment options.

The following descriptions will help you understand a bit more about each option and why he or she may recommend each one.

All the following should be considered before the final treatment plan is determined.

  • Position of tooth

  • Structure of tooth

  • Aesthetics

  • Patient and tooth history

  • Degree and type of any decay

  • Patient preferences

We’ll start with the most minimal treatment option.

Composite filling

Should you arrive at your dentist with a small cavity towards the front of your mouth, he or she might recommend a composite or “tooth-colored” filling made of which is commonly made of a ceramic and plastic compound. These fillings may not be as strong as the traditional “amalgam” or mixed metal fillings, but they are often preferred because they form a bond more easily and require less drilling and because they blend in so if your filling is going to be in a noticeable spot in your mouth the aesthetics of a “natural” colored filling may be preferred.

Again, this is often the preferred treatment for a filling that’s needed in one of your front teeth. It may also be used on a patient who has an allergic issue to the metals used in amalgam fillings which we will talk about next.

Amalgam filling

An amalgam filling is the kind that has been around since the late 1800s and it’s basically a filling made of silver colored metals. It contains a mixture of metals that bond well to your teeth and is often stronger and longer lasting than the resin or plastic based fillings and therefore preferred for fillings in the back of your mouth where there is a lot of pressure and wear and tear on those teeth. One of the downsides is that one of the metals it includes is Mercury. However, it is often still preferred for larger fillings where a crown or other type of treatment doesn’t make sense.

Porcelain In-lay or On-lay

Before we talk about a full porcelain crown there’s another option we should mention. If you have a clean break or chip in one of your teeth without any cavity or if your prosthodontist needs to replace a portion of a good strong tooth, he or she may suggest a porcelain inly or partial covering of your tooth.

Aesthetically, this treatment looks natural and the covering is matched to your original tooth color as best is possible. It’s also relatively strong.

Full Porcelain Crown

A full porcelain crown is recommended when the tooth in need of restoration is in a very visible area of the mouth or gum recession is expected over time. It’s also recommended when the tooth that needs repair that will be stronger than an inlay or filling.

What do you do you when you are trying to restore a tooth with a large cavity or a big break or chip in it? Another option is to fill the gap or the cavity with gold material and fuse the porcelain to it. This approach is much stronger, feels better and creates a better seal to the structure of the tooth.

The bottom line is that you and your provider should have a discussion before the repair is made and you should be prepared to answer questions about the history of the tooth, what’s important to you, how your tooth feels and what type of eating and sleeping habits you have. Clenching or grinding of your teeth may play a role in the recommended course of action!

Do you have a tooth that needs repair now? If yes, and you are in the Morristown, NJ area, please contact us for a consult.


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