Fill Tooth or Crown It?

I have a tooth (fifth from front on top. It has a large filling and a small spot of decay by the gum line. The tooth "zings" me if i eat something sweet, but ill brush, and the very minor "zing" goes away. Why am I being advised to get a filling instead of a "spot filling" to fill the cavity? Like, leave the old filling, drill out the decay, and glue, bond or whatever it takes to hold the new filling in. Do I really need a crown? I'm thinking of just getting the tooth pulled. I'm 70.

Doctor Answers 4

Filling or Crown

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Hey Katie,  First of all it is never a good strategy to simply pull a tooth because it needs treatment.  I have a patient who needed work when she was 70 and asked me whether or not she could just have her teeth pulled.  Of course she could.  They are her teeth but i suggested she might just need them for a while longer.  She is now 96 and still has those same teeth.  It is difficult to recommend treatment without a photo or radiograph but often times the tooth you are talking about does need a crown to truly restore it properly so that you can keep it for the rest of your life.  But if you simply want the filling try that.  Have the dentist keep an eye on it and if your sensitivity does not go away you should seriously consider a crown.  Good luck to you.  I hope you still have this tooth 30 years from now.    

Seattle Dentist

Filling or Crown

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This is difficult to answer without a photo. A filling at the gumline can be done but sometimes if the decay is extensive a crown needs to be done especially if the decay goes below the gumline. This insures an area that is sealed from bacteria which often cannot be accomplished with a filling. That is an important tooth to keep. I would not advise getting it extracted regardless of your age.

Ana Brightleaf, DMD
Santa Monica Dentist

Do I have the tooth filled, crowned or pulled?

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It sounds like the tooth has two problems, one is a small gumline cavity and the other is a large filling on the top of the tooth that the dentist thinks is leaking or is ready to break on you.  By doing the crown he is thinking he will take care of two problems at once and will give your tooth the most strength to last you over the years.  If you don't want to do the crown, then ask him if it can be treated by just doing the two fillings, but that you understand that the fillings may not help protect the tooth from breaking as a crown would.

As for whether or not to extract (pull) the tooth, I don't understand why you would rather have surgery to remove the tooth instead of the fillings or crown?  If you had an infected fingernail, would you amputate your finger?  All things being equal and the tooth does not having any other significant problems that you haven't mentioned, I would highly recommend saving and restoring the tooth rather than extracting it.

Norman Huefner, DDS
Laguna Niguel Dentist

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Fill Tooth or Crown It

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Without a picture or an xray its hard to tell.  If the exsisting filling is very large (more than 60% of the tooth), a crown would be advisable.  If finances are an issue, then a filling is fine.

Murray Bruckel, DDS
Norwalk Dentist

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.