Tooth enamel is the hardest thing in your body followed by the inside of the tooth referred to as dentin. Bacteria that live in your mouth produce an acid that dissolves your enamel and dentin that results in what is called a cavity. If these bacteria are not cleaned from your teeth with brushing and/or flossing and/or a Squaw Peak Dental cleaning they may cause cavities. Just like gum disease, cavities may be early and/or mild and may be treated and/or repaired with fillings. More advanced enamel and dentin infections (cavities) may require crowns.
Fillings are accomplished by amputating the sick (carious) tooth structure and replacing it with a dental replacement product. Fillings may be silver (amalgam), plastic (composite), gold or porcelain. There are advantages and disadvantages to each material. Silver is the least expensive but it is ugly and contains mercury. Silver fillings have been banned in some countries. Plastic tooth colored composite is the most popular filling material. But the plastic is more expensive and more technically sensitive to placement. Gold is the best filling material but is expensive and many customers do not like the appearance. Porcelain is stronger than composite but weaker than gold. Porcelain acts like an enamel substitute and is also more costly to use.
Crowns can be gold, porcelain or a hybrid gold/porcelain crown (referred to as a porcelain fused to metal crown). A crown is dental restoration that covers or ‘caps’ a tooth to restore it to its normal shape, size and function. Crowns are intended to strengthen or improve the appearance a sick tooth/teeth. Teeth may be sick from a cavity that was not fixed with a filling. Crowns may be used to protect a weak or cracked tooth. A cap may also cover a badly shaped or discolored tooth. Implants replacing missing teeth are also covered with crowns.