When a tooth’s structure has been compromised by decay, your doctor may choose to use a filling or a crown to repair it. There are some differences between the two solutions that you will want to discuss with your doctor as you plan your treatment. When repairing a small area of decay, a filling is a great option to replace the damaged portion of the tooth, while preserving the majority of the tooth’s natural structure. The cavity can be filled with a material called “composite”. Composite closely mimics the tooth’s natural shade and sheen. Once completed, the filling should halt the decay and keep the tooth healthy for a number of years. Additional benefits of a filling include the ability to be completed within a single appointment, and lessened cost compared to a crown. However, a drawback of a filling can be a shorter comparative life-span for the restoration, and potential long-term issues like recurring decay and cracking can occur. The risk of cracking is increased as the area needing to be replaced is larger. When the tooth cracks, a more extensive procedure will be required to return the tooth to optimal shape and function. Another option is placing a crown over the tooth. This is the best treatment when a tooth has been weakened by extensive decay, injury or deterioration of a large filling. A crown procedure involves reducing the surface area of the whole tooth to remove the decay, and then covering it entirely with a restoration made of metal, ceramic, or a combination of the two. Crowns offer better durability and reliable longevity compared to a large filling, and eliminate the potential for teeth developing fractures over time. Also when ceramic is used, they provide a much more uniform and naturally pleasing appearance. This procedure is more involved than receiving a filling, and can require multiple appointments if molds are sent to an outside lab to create the crown. While also more expensive than a filling, the durability and reliable longevity of a crown offsets the expense over time. In the right circumstances, both a filling and a crown are excellent solutions for repairing decayed or damaged teeth. It is important that you consult with your doctor so that the right choice can be made, based upon your unique needs.