Like any other part of the body, a tooth is subject to wear and tear due to everyday use. When teeth are worn down or damaged beyond repair, they need to be replaced with dental crowns or onlays. But which one is better for your teeth?
Onlays are the preferred option whenever possible. They’re affordable and less aggressive restorations than crowns because they require minimal preparation of the teeth.
However, it can be difficult for patients to decide which type of restoration to get because there are significant differences between these two restorations that might not seem obvious at first glance. This blog post explores the differences between both treatments to help you decide.
What is a Dental Crown, and When Do You Need One?
A dental crown is a restoration that completely covers the visible portion of a tooth above the gum line. Crowns are often used to restore teeth that have been severely damaged by decay, fracture, or wear.
In addition, they’re used to protect and strengthen teeth that have undergone a root canal treatment. They can also be used to improve the appearance of discolored or misshapen teeth.
Crowns are custom-made to fit the exact contours of your teeth. They are created from a mix of materials, including porcelain and metals such as gold or nickel alloy.
What Are Dental Inlays & Onlays?
Dental inlays and onlays are restorations similar to a crown but not as strong or durable.
Inlays/onlays typically cover only the visible portion of teeth above the gum line. In comparison to a full-coverage crown restoration, this means that they’re “half” of what’s going on with a crown. They’re made of either porcelain or composite resin and are bonded to the tooth using dental adhesive.
Inlays and onlays can be used for a variety of reasons:
- To restore a decayed tooth
- To repair a cracked or fractured tooth
- To cover up a large filling
- To improve the appearance of a discolored or stained tooth
- To protect a weak tooth from breaking
Inlay & Onlay Dentistry: What’s the Difference and Which is Better?
An inlay is a restoration placed within the cavity of a tooth. On the other hand, an onlay is similar to an inlay, but it extends over one or more cusp tips of the tooth.
Both inlays and onlays are made of porcelain, gold, or composite resin. Porcelain is usually recommended because it looks most like natural teeth and offers the best wear resistance.
The difference between inlays and onlays usually depends on how much of the tooth needs to be covered. If only a small area needs to be filled, an inlay is used. If more of the tooth needs to be protected, an onlay is used.
Both inlays and onlays are strong, durable, and long-lasting. They can last for up to 15 years or even longer with proper care.
Crowns vs. Onlays: Which is Better?
As you can see, there’s a difference between an onlay and a crown. They are both used to restore teeth, but an onlay covers up less of the tooth than a complete crown would.
So which one should your dentist recommend: inlays, onlays, or crowns? Does it even matter? Well, that depends on your specific situation.
For instance, if you have a cavity that needs to be filled, your dentist will likely recommend an inlay or onlay instead of a crown. This is because crowns are only used if there’s extensive damage to the tooth, and more of it needs to be covered than what can be done with an inlay or onlay.
Your dentist may also recommend a crown if you’ve undergone a root canal treatment. You see, once a root canal is complete, the tooth isn’t as strong and durable. In turn, it may break or develop other problems over time without support from a crown.
Onlays are generally recommended to people who have very little decay in their teeth but need to protect them from fracturing down the road due to biting into hard objects frequently throughout life.
Therefore, the choice between these three restorations depends on the amount of tooth decay present, your oral health history, and your lifestyle habits.
Make an Informed Decision
Your trusted expert can fully assess your condition and recommend the treatment option that’s right for you. This way, they will restore your tooth to its original form, so it feels just like natural teeth again!