What’s the difference between dental crowns and onlays?

When teeth become decayed, your dentist will usually tell you that you need a filling. Left for too long however, the need for restorative treatments such as dental crowns, inlays, Onlays or even a dental implant may be necessary to complete your smile.

It’s a similar story when it comes to accidents that cause teeth to chip, break or come loose.  Restorations are able to replace the missing fragments and act as a sort of cement that holds the remaining natural parts of the tooth together.

So how do you know what restorative dental treatment is best when it comes to fixing your teeth?

Depending on the nature of damage to your smile, any one of these treatments may be appropriate:

Dental implants and dental bridges are used as tooth replacement methods whereas inlays, Onlays and crowns are used to rebuild the natural tooth.

So what’s the difference between inlays, Onlays, and dental crowns?

If they are all used to rebuild the tooth, what sets them apart from each other? In this infographic, we’ve outlined what each treatment is, how they differ and why one may be more necessary than the other.

Dental Crowns

Dental crowns appear as an imitation replacement of the entire visible part of the tooth. Generally, dentists will recommend this kind of restoration to reinforce the structure of the tooth if it has become severely weakened, as a cover over a tooth that has undergone root canal therapy or as an attachment to a dental implant that has replaced a missing tooth.

Rarely will a dentist use a crown as an aesthetic solution unless the tooth has been damaged from grinding or some other cause. Dental crowns only make the best choice for making cosmetic changes in situations where they serve other purposes, such as restoring teeth to their original shape or strengthening them.

The pros and cons of crowns

Crowns are strong and sturdy. Even stronger, in fact than a natural tooth! Crowns look and feel like a natural tooth and thanks to the reinforced strength, they function naturally as well.

Unfortunately, though, dental crowns require a lot of the natural tooth’s structure to be depleted. This is because crowns are fabricated as a replacement for the visible part of the tooth so for them to fit comfortably, the visible part of the tooth must be removed.

Inlays and Onlays

Inlays and Onlays are restorations that are similar to fillings but larger.

What is an Inlay?

An inlay is used to treat decay within the cusps of the tooth. These are the bumpy parts on the biting surface visible on the back teeth. They are tooth-colored and made from strong porcelain and resin materials.

What is an Onlay?

Onlays are made from the same materials however they are used to treat larger areas of the teeth. Onlays are often referred to as partial crowns because they can look similar to crowns at times but they don’t require as much tooth structure to be lost from the tooth.

What are the pros and cons of inlays and Onlays?

Although these restorations are not quite as strong as crowns, they still have a great number of advantages. For some people, if they have not taken proper care of their oral health or a filling or crown has become defected, the tooth may need to be restored again. Unfortunately, this can cause a lot of damage to the remaining tooth structure. In cases like these, if the tooth has been restored with a filling, inlay or Onlay, the later restoration will be more likely to not require a full tooth replacement. Where crowns are involved often times the remaining tooth structure is no longer salvageable.

We love our patients and love to help them form healthy dental life that will last them a lifetime. For more information call us today to answer all of your questions, so get an appointment today.

Leave a Reply