Fillings vs. Crowns: What’s the Difference, and Why are They Necessary?

When a tooth’s surface becomes damaged, the vulnerable tissue beneath becomes exposed to bacteria, which can further corrode its integrity. In time, that corrosion can lead to breakage, which could compromise the entire tooth and lead to serious health concerns, such as a dental abscess. It’s important to defend your teeth; they are, in essence, bone, and bone can’t regrow.

Any pit, breakage, chip, or crack can be addressed by either a filling or a crown. Here’s the difference between the two:


  • Part of the tooth will be removed as gently as possible. Some fillings require little to no anesthesia depending on the depth of a cavity.
  • Once the cavity has been cleared away, the opening will be filled in with health-safe material, typically a composite.
  • The filling itself can be coated and cosmetically treated to resemble a natural part of the tooth itself, creating a seamless appearance.
  • Older fillings may need to be removed and replaced, as the metals used by dentists in the past create a “blackening” effect on the surrounding tooth that is aesthetically unpleasant.
  • Fillings may come dislodged through damage to the tooth, or due to sticky foods– if this occurs, don’t panic.


  • Crowns are often placed after a root canal has been performed to remove the vital pulp of the tooth. The crown itself is a cap which is placed on top of the tooth to protect is structure and to seal it, keeping bacteria and food matter out.
  • Crown placement is a much more in-depth procedure typically accompanying surgery, thus more extensive pain management options are required.
  • Like fillings, the crowns can be cosmetically treated and adjusted to match surrounding teeth in both shape and color. Different materials are available for crowns, with metals being preferable for back teeth, and composite alloys used for the front.
  • Crowns can be used as anchors for bridges and partials.

Whether a filling or a crown is recommended, they are absolutely vital in avoiding serious dental infections or tooth loss.

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