Reviewed by Dr. Gary Morris, DDS

Are you confused about the differences between root canals, fillings, and crowns? You’re not alone. Dental treatments can be a challenge to understand. 

In this blog post, we will break down the three most common dental procedures: root canals, fillings, and crowns. We’ll discuss their purpose, when each treatment is necessary, and their  pros and cons. We’ll also provide tips to maintain optimal oral health.

Key Takeaway

Root canals, fillings, and crowns are all used to restore damaged teeth. A root canal removes infection and damage from inside the tooth. A filling treats tooth decay by removing and filling the damaged area with a tooth-like material. A crown is a cap placed over the damaged tooth to protect and restore it. Find out more about these restorative dental treatments at Morris Dental Solutions.

Root Canals: Restore Infected Teeth 

A root canal is a treatment used to restore an infected or damaged tooth by removing the pulp inside the tooth and then sealing it to prevent further infection. The tooth’s pulp contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. When this part of the tooth becomes infected, it can cause severe pain and discomfort.

Root Canal Symptoms

Some signs that may indicate the need for a root canal include:

  • Swollen gums around the affected tooth
  • Severe tooth pain
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Pimple-like bump on the gums near the tooth

Root Canal Procedure Step-by-Step

  1. Anesthesia: Local anesthesia is administered to numb the area around the affected tooth. If you have dental anxiety, talk to your dentist about sedation options.
  2. Pulpectomy: Your dentist will create an opening in the top of your tooth and remove the infected or damaged pulp.
  3. Cleaning and shaping: The inside of the tooth will be cleaned and disinfected to remove any remaining bacteria.
  4. Filling: Once the tooth is cleaned, it will be filled with gutta-percha, a rubber-like material, to prevent further infection.
  5. Temporary filling: A temporary filling provides temporary protection and stability for a tooth until a permanent restoration is available.
  6. Final restoration: Depending on the severity of the damage, your dentist may recommend a crown or filling to restore the function and appearance of your tooth. 

The root canal treatment takes about 90 minutes and is typically completed in one appointment. After a root canal, your tooth may be sensitive for a few days, but this can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers.

Pros and Cons of Root Canals


  • Saves the natural tooth from extraction
  • Relieves pain and discomfort caused by infection or inflammation
  • Prevents further damage to surrounding teeth and bone


  • Can be costly, depending on the severity of the infection and the restoration
  • May require multiple appointments
  • Some patients may experience discomfort or sensitivity after the procedure

Dental Fillings: Repairing Tooth Decay

Dental fillings treat tooth decay by removing and filling the damaged area with a tooth-like material. Fillings can be made from various materials, including amalgam, composite resin, and porcelain.

Dental Filling Symptoms

You may need a dental filling if you experience:

  • Toothache
  • Sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweets
  • Visible dark spots on the tooth
  • Pain when biting down

Dental Filling Procedure Step-by-Step

  1. Anesthesia: Local anesthesia is administered to numb the area around the affected tooth. If you require multiple fillings, your dentist may recommend sedation.
  2. Tooth preparation: The decayed tooth portion will be removed, leaving a clean and healthy surface for filling.
  3. Filling placement: The filling material is placed in the prepared cavity and shaped to match the natural contour of your tooth. If composite resin is used, it is cured and hardened using a special light.
  4. Polishing: Your dentist will polish the filling to match the shine of your natural teeth.

The process takes about 30 minutes to an hour, and you can resume normal activities immediately after the procedure. Some patients may experience mild sensitivity or discomfort for a few days.

Pros and Cons of Dental Fillings


  • Can be completed in one visit, depending on the size of the cavity
  • Less expensive compared to other dental treatments
  • Can be matched to your natural tooth color for a seamless appearance


  • May not last as long as crowns or root canals, especially if you grind your teeth or have poor oral hygiene habits
  • May need replacement over time due to wear and tear

Dental Crowns: Protect Damaged Teeth

Dental crowns, or caps, are protective coverings placed over damaged teeth to restore their shape, size, and strength. They can be made from porcelain, metal, or zirconia.

Traditional crowns require multiple visits and a waiting period while the permanent crown is made. In contrast, same-day crowns are fabricated in the dentist’s office and can be placed on the same day as your dental procedure.

Dental Crown Symptoms

You may need a dental crown if you experience:

  • Severe tooth decay or damage
  • A cracked or fractured tooth
  • A tooth with a root canal
  • A misshapen or discolored tooth

Dental Crown Procedure Step-by-Step:

  1. Anesthesia: Local anesthesia will numb the area around the tooth. If you suffer from dental anxiety, discuss sedation options with your dentist.
  2. Tooth preparation: The damaged portion of the tooth will be removed, and the remaining healthy structure will be shaped to accommodate the crown.
  3. Impression: An impression of your tooth will be taken to create a custom-made crown that fits perfectly over your tooth.
  4. Temporary crown: While you wait for your permanent crown, a temporary one will be placed to protect the prepared tooth. Alternately, same-day crowns eliminate the need for a temporary crown as they can be fabricated and placed on the same day.
  5. Final restoration: Once your permanent crown is ready, you will return to the dentist to place it over your tooth and cement into place.

The process takes two appointments, with the second being shorter than the first. The first appointment typically takes about an hour to an hour and a half, while the second may only take 30 minutes to an hour. After receiving a dental crown, you may experience mild sensitivity or discomfort for a few days.

Same-Day Crowns

Same-day crowns are a modern dental technology that allows for creating a custom dental crown in a single appointment. This is made possible through Computer-Aided Design/Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAD/CAM) technology. This technology captures a 3D image of the damaged tooth and uses that data to design a perfectly fitted crown.

The crown is then milled right in the office. Once ready, the crown is bonded to the tooth. Same-day crowns are durable and can be color-matched to your existing teeth for a natural look.

Pros and Cons of Dental Crowns


  • Provides long-lasting protection for damaged teeth
  • Can be made to match the shape, size, and color of your natural teeth
  • Can improve the appearance of a discolored or misshapen tooth


  • Are more expensive compared to fillings
  • Is a more invasive procedure than fillings
  • May cause sensitivity or discomfort after the procedure

Prevention: Your Best Dental Care Tool

Now that you know the differences between a root canal, filling, and crown, here are some tips to maintain healthy teeth:

  • Brush and floss daily.
  • Limit your intake of sugary and acidic foods, which can contribute to tooth decay.
  • Schedule regular check-ups and cleanings with your dentist.
  • Wear a mouthguard during physical activities that may cause injury to your teeth.

Your Buffalo Grove Dentist

Root canals, dental fillings, and dental crowns are common dental treatments that help protect and restore the health and appearance of your teeth. Understanding these treatments empowers you to make informed decisions about your dental care.

At Morris Dental Solutions, we provide innovative dental solutions to restore oral health and improve smiles. Whether you require a root canal, fillings, or dental crowns, our personalized approach ensures customized treatment plans based on your unique needs. Our experienced dentists use cutting-edge techniques and advanced technology for optimal results.

Say goodbye to dental problems and hello to a confident, healthy smile with Morris Dental Solutions. Book an appointment with the best restorative dentists in Buffalo Grove, IL. Call (602) 935-7427 or complete the online booking form.

If you are searching for a ‘restorative dentist near me,’ contact Morris Dental Solutions.

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