Can you put a crown over a tooth with a filling?

September 30, 2023

It can be confusing to know your best course of action when determining whether to get a filling or a dental crown with tooth decay appearing. If you already have a tooth with a filling, this begs the question, can you put a crown over a filling? Before making a dentist appointment, it’s important to learn more about the difference between fillings and crowns, crown benefits, and whether you can place a crown over a tooth with a filling.

Keep reading to learn more!

What’s a filling?

A filling is a dental procedure intended to restore small areas of tooth decay. Any tooth can be retrofitted with small fillings. The process begins with the dentist removing the decayed section of the tooth, cleaning it, and filling it with resin that replicates tooth enamel. Since the filled area is small, you may have several fillings in a single tooth, since the resin prevents bacteria from entering and growing closer to the tooth’s root. Your dentist could recommend replacing an older metal filling with the latest resin or a new filling.

What’s a dental crown?

A dental crown is a cap that fits over an existing tooth. This option is best for severely decayed teeth or when one tooth has too many small fillings, thus weakening the structure. Crowns are also used for broken teeth or to restore weakened teeth which cannot be repaired using a small filling. The primary difference between a filling and a crown is the latter is situated over the entire tooth, while fillings simply plug a hole in the tooth resulting from decay.

Like a filling, a dentist will clear out decay before the crown is added. To add a crown, the dentist first takes an impression of the tooth and creates a mold, which is sent to an outside supplier to be created. Concurrently, a temporary cap is placed over your tooth, replicating the final crown, until the permanent fixture arrives. Once available, the temporary cap is removed, and the crown is cemented over the tooth.

Crown benefits

Many crown benefits exist including:

  • Beneficial for those who need to restore a worn or broken tooth.
  • Covers discolored teeth.
  • Encases a tooth with too many fillings.
  • Helps protect a decayed and weak tooth from breaking.
  • Holds a cracked tooth in place.
  • It supports a tooth with large fillings that aren’t structurally sound.

Filling benefits

Many benefits also exist for fillings, such as:

  • Adds strength to fractured teeth.
  • Enhances discolored teeth.
  • Improves tooth structure by adding support to the cavity.
  • Protect your teeth from additional decay.
  • It stops cavities from growing because the tooth decay is removed, and the resin plugs the resulting gap.

Can you put a crown over a tooth with a filling?

Yes, placing a crown over a tooth with a filling is a widespread practice. Removing fillings to add a crown over the top is an unnecessary practice. Since fillings plug the small holes in your teeth with resin, they are flush with the rest of the tooth. Therefore, placing a crown over the tooth will only further protect and support the structure. Crowns are commonly placed over fillings when too many fillings exist in the tooth, thus weakening the structure, a crack in the tooth appears, or a large filling has been added and the tooth requires additional support. The only instance where it makes sense to remove a filling and add a crown is if the tooth is weakened and the filling is metal, thus needing to be replaced by modern resin.

Why not replace the old filling with a new resin?

For those with metal fillings who need replacement, most dentists will opt to add a crown. This leaves patients asking why the dentist is replacing old fillings with crowns. In many instances, this is the case, but certain circumstances require a crown. The primary reason for adding a new crown is if additional decay has occurred on the tooth with the metal filling. That means the dentist will need to remove the filling and the decay underneath. Once the decay has been removed, there’s usually not enough tooth structure to support an additional filling, even with new resin. For this reason, the protection provided by a crown ensures the integrity and longevity of the tooth over years of usage. The crown will also blend better with the surrounding natural teeth.

To learn more about replacing old fillings with a crown or to make an appointment, contact Baker Pediatric Dentistry today! Their professionals are ready to answer all your questions regarding crowns and fillings!

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