Crowns vs. Fillings

If your child’s tooth experiences extensive decay, you may find yourself in the position of having to make a decision between a dental crown and a filling. Both options can help restore your child’s tooth, but depending upon the situation one may be better than the other.

Several factors, such as your budget and personal preference, will determine whether you should choose a dental crown or a filling. Here are some factors you should carefully consider before making a final decision whether to go with a dental crown or a filling.

The Overall Cost of the Procedure

Cost is a huge factor when determining whether to have a dental crown or filling. A composite filling, even a large one, is considerably cheaper than a dental crown. The considerable difference in price is often why many people choose to go with a composite filling before a dental crown.

While the cost of the procedure will vary from dentist to dentist and depending upon which tooth is being worked on, the complexity of the restoration, and what materials are used, you can still expect to pay the following for each procedure:

  • Composite fillings – $110 to $370
  • All metal dental crown – $650 to $1,440
  • Porcelain and metal dental crown – $775 to $1,600
  • All ceramic dental crown – $800 to $1,800

While dental insurance – if you have it – will typically cover a portion of your procedure, whether your child will get a crown or a filling, you are still responsible for the remaining balance. Depending upon your insurance, you could be responsible for paying anywhere from 20% to 80% of the cost of the procedure.

The Time Commitment Involved with the Procedure

Composite fillings, no matter how large, can be completed in one office visit. The office visit can last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour depending upon the size of the filling.

On the other hand, dental crowns require a larger time commitment. When getting a dental crown for a permanent tooth, you will have to plan on at least two office visits. The first office visit you will have impressions taken, the tooth prepped for the dental crown, and a temporary filling placed. Several weeks later, usually 6 to 8 weeks later, you will return to the dentist. During this visit your temporary crown is removed and the permanent crown is placed.

If your child is getting a dental crown on a baby tooth, the time commitment involves is significantly different. Baby tooth dental crowns can often be completed in a single office visit.

Which Tooth Needs to be Restored

Composite fillings tend to be more successful in smaller, front teeth. This means if your child has a large cavity in a first molar, a dental crown may be a better long term solution as it will have less chance of failing or causing additional problems.

Another factor to consider is whether the tooth is a baby tooth or a permanent tooth. Baby teeth will eventually fall out and be replaced with permanent teeth. This makes fillings a better solution for most baby teeth as they are less costly and the tooth will eventually fall out. However, if the baby tooth isn’t going to be lost for several years, a dental crown may be a better, more durable solution.

The Long Term Outlook

There are no guarantees when it comes to dental procedures. Some procedures will last several years, while others could fail several weeks later. Even though you cannot predict how long a crown or filling will last, you can get a general time frame.

With proper maintenance, a dental crown for a permanent tooth can last several decades. Their durable design dramatically reduces the likelihood that they will fail. For a baby tooth, the crown will last until the tooth falls out or until your child turns 12.

Composite fillings are a bit more unpredictable. Some patients can have a filling that lasts 5, 10, or even 25 years without any problems, while others could have a filling that will fail within the first two years. If a filling fails, it could lead to the need to have other dental work performed, such as a root canal, tooth extraction, or placement of a dental crown.

In addition to the possibility of the filling failing, there are other problems that can occur. Over time, a filling may leak, which can cause extensive staining on your child’s teeth or it can fall out.

Making the decision between a dental crown and a filling for your child can be difficult. The dentists at Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida can help you explore your options and determine which procedure the best solution for your child. Call our office today to schedule an appointment for your child.