If you need to get a tooth restored, then your dentist will likely use one of two tools: a filling or a crown. Each serves a different purpose and there aren't very many situations where both would be viable options. To help you understand why you might need a filling or a crown, here is an explanation of how they work and how they are different:
The idea behind a filling is pretty simple. If you have an infected or damaged tooth, then your dentist needs to clear out the infected material and restore the tooth to its original shape and capacity. If the tooth is still structurally sound, then you can handle the problem simply by filling in the void with a suitable material.
As far as materials go, the cheapest is normally going to be resin. Resin fillings are very quick and don't take long at all, but they are also the weakest of materials and have a tendency to stain. If you only need a small area of your tooth restored, then a filling can be perfectly viable option.
If you are looking for something a bit more durable, then metal or porcelain fillings can be quite attractive. Silver and gold are often used, but they are quite obvious, so if you are concerned about the appearance of your filling, then you might want to opt for a more natural option. Porcelain is often quite expensive, but is also extremely durable and is almost indistinguishable from your natural teeth as far as appearance goes.
Crowns are used in situations where the integrity of a tooth has been compromised and a filling would not be able to restore the shape of the tooth. In other words, a crown is basically a fitted cap that is attached to the top of the tooth. This also makes them a bit more complex, which means that they need to be manufactured on a case-by-case basis. On your first visit, you will be measured and given a temporary crown, but you will need to come back to get the final version after a few weeks.
Like fillings, crowns are often made from resin, metals, and porcelain, with all of the same drawbacks and benefits. However, since crowns are much larger, you will also need to watch out for foods that might stain your porcelain or resin crown. Red wines, coffee, and soda can all stain your crown quite deeply if you aren't paying attention. Contact a dentist, like Pacific Ave Dental/Allan L. Hablutzel, DDS