Lucio H. Kim DDS

Why Can't I Just Get a Filling? Dental Crowns vs Fillings

January 13, 2021
Posted By: Lucio H. Kim DDS
A broken dental crown at dentist office in Glendale, CA

Why can't I just get a dental filling? Can't you just fill it, Doc?"

I get this question on an almost daily basis at my Glendale dental practice.
Of course you can get a dental filling. The choice of treatment should always be yours. But there are always some risks associated with getting a large dental filling instead of a dental crown, especially for back teeth or for patients who grind their teeth.

Breaking your tooth.  

The risk of tooth breakage is the main reason why we recommend a dental crown over a filling for our Glendale patients. When a tooth is decayed, sometimes there is barely enough tooth left to support a filling and breakage becomes a real risk. We cannot control where the tooth may break, but sometimes it is still possible to place a dental crown after the tooth breaks.
"Great, Doc! Let's do that! I can deal with that"
Well, hold on now.  Let me repeat: We cannot control where the tooth may break.
If your tooth breaks too deep, then that means it breaks into the nerve or pulp of the tooth. And yes, that is exactly as bad as it sounds. A tooth breaking that low will cause immense pain and will require root canal IN ADDITION to the dental crown.
Additionally, If a tooth breaks too far below the gums, we generally have to extract and remove the tooth entirely and replace it with an implant or a "bridge". The procedures are more time consuming and they come with their own additional risks. This is why I always try to do the most conservative thing for you in terms of treatment and drilling.  

I always make a promise to my patients to fully explain the risks of what they are getting into. If I do a dental filling now, but that leads to more invasive work very soon, is that what you are willing to accept? It may seem like overkill to place a dental crown from the start, but if it means potentially saving you from a root canal or an extraction, then the crown ends up being the most conservative thing I can do for you.

I always invite my patients to be active participants in their health. Ask me questions. I (should) have good answers for you!
I will always present the options and let you know what I would do for me.  But the choice is always yours!

If you have difficulty using our website, please email us or call us at (818) 242-3739
View the ADA Accessibility Statement
WE ARE OPEN and taking all appointments! In continuing to prioritize the health and safety of our staff and patients, we have implemented heightened health protocols. Click here for more safety information. We look forward to seeing you again in the office!