Inlays and Onlays vs Crowns - Which is Better?
Finding out that you have a cavity is never fun. But we have several options that we can choose from to restore your tooth back to better health.
When you have a cavity, we assess its size and location. Then we make recommendations for a restoration that we believe will offer the best chances for long term success.
Dental inlays, onlays and crowns all have their place for repairing teeth.
Understanding how each one works helps you know why we think one is better than another to include in your treatment plan.
When You Need More Than a Filling
Cavities that are caught early can usually be drilled out and filled with a composite or amalgam material. In some cases, the tooth decay is too extensive, and we need to remove more of the tooth than we would for a normal filling.
You can also have decay on the cusp of a tooth. This is often harder to repair with a simple filling.
Inlays, onlays and crowns provide more support for a tooth that has had a large amount of its surface removed.
Differences Between Dental Inlays and Onlays
An inlay is a solid piece of material that is used to fill in space after your cavity is drilled out. This type of restoration is made to fill in cavities that occur between the cusps of your tooth.
Onlays are more like a partial crown. They are made to fit over the cusp of your tooth, but they do not cover the entire tooth like a crown does.
Both inlays and onlays can be made from metal, such as gold, for teeth that are not visible when you smile. You can also have these made in composite resin or porcelain to match your tooth color.
Reasons a Dentist May Recommend a Crown
Crowns are often recommended when a large part of your tooth’s structure must be removed. We often use crowns after a root canal procedure to make the tooth stronger.
Since crowns cover the tooth from the gum line up, they are also an option to cover teeth that are discolored or fractured.
A crown is more invasive than an inlay or onlay, but it also has benefits, such as being the strongest out of all of the options. They can also be made from porcelain or metal.
We can also offer you porcelain fused to metal crowns, which add extra strength to the restoration. These are often ideal for use on the back teeth where biting forces are stronger.
What to Expect With Each Procedure
Each of these restorations requires us to custom make them to fit the shape of your tooth. For this reason, having dental inlays, onlays or a crown placed involves more than one visit.
During your first visit, we prepare the tooth by removing decay or performing a root canal. Then, we make a mold of your tooth, which is sent to the dental laboratory to create the restoration. A temporary crown or inlay can be put on your tooth while you wait.
Once we get your restoration back, we remove the temporary filling or crown and place your restoration.
Whether you need an inlay or a crown, you need to trust the advice of your dentist. Always ask us any questions that you have about your treatment. This way, we can explain why a particular restoration is better than another so that you can make an educated decision about your oral health.