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What is the difference between a dental crown and a filling?

Your dentist may have told you that you need a crown or filling to protect a tooth. These procedures are common, but can be confusing. What’s the difference, and what will the procedure entail? We’re here to help.

Here’s everything you need to know about getting a crown or filling:

What is a dental crown? When might I need a crown?

Crowns are used when the tooth is weakened, broken, or needs extra support. They can also be used for cosmetic reasons.

Permanent crowns are usually placed over a damaged tooth to replicate the appearance and function of a normal tooth. They are made out of stainless steel, or porcelain and metal. Porcelain crowns can be color matched to your other teeth, so you don’t have to worry about how your smile will look after!

The dentist will take an impression of your tooth so it can be matched exactly in the lab. You may receive a temporary crown in the dentist’s office before your new permanent crown can be constructed. On your final visit, your new crown will be cemented in place.

You may experience some discomfort at first; this is normal as you adjust to your new crown. Make sure to avoid sticky or hard foods as you heal to keep the crown in place. And keep up good brushing and flossing habits - you can still develop gum disease when you have a crown.

What is a dental filling?

Dental fillings protect teeth that have partial decay — also known as cavities. Your dentist will remove damaged tissue and then fill the area with a special filling material. Fillings help prevent further decay by blocking bacteria from entering the center of the tooth.

Fillings should also ease any pain and discomfort you experience with a cavity, and are crucial for preventing tooth or bone loss that may occur when decay goes unchecked.

When you get a filling, the dentist will use either amalgam (a combination of various metals), gold, or a ceramic filling based on your needs. Similar to a crown, make sure you are gentle with your new filling during the first few weeks. Before long, you won’t even notice it!

If you are in pain and need affordable dental care in San Mateo, please give us a call. We accept all dental insurance and will work with our patients to manage out-of-pocket costs.

Dental Care
Jessica Levin
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