Crowns vs. Inlays and Onlays
If your teeth have suffered some decay and need treatment and restoration, what are your options? First, the dentist will clean out your tooth and remove all of the decayed areas. This will prevent the tooth from getting damaged any further and the decay from spreading to the other teeth.
You also have to cover or fill the tooth, or else that space can hold germs and bacteria, which can invite more trouble. This is where the dentist decides if they should use a crown, inlays, or onlays.
What is the Difference Between Crowns, Inlays, and Onlays?
Unlike dentures or implants, which can be used to replace several teeth at once, these procedures are used to treat a single tooth only. Here are some of their differences.
Inlays are usually the first option that most dentists consider if the dental cavity is of a particular size. Normally, when a dentist treats decay in the tooth, they drill and clean out the tooth first. Then, if the opening is small enough, they simply fill it with dental filling to protect the tooth.
However, sometimes, the cavity can be too large to fill all the way with filling. That’s where dental inlays come in. When using inlays, your tooth is fitted with a customized piece that is specially fabricated in a lab or even in the dentist’s office to perfectly fit that cavity in your tooth. It can be made of ceramic or gold.
Inlays and fillings usually fall under a separate category as they are primarily meant for filling the tooth cavity. Onlays and crowns are different as they are more intended towards covering the tooth surface. Despite their similar names, onlays are actually used for the cusp of the tooth, while an inlay simply fills the space between the cusps.
The tooth is still drilled to remove the cavity. However, instead of filling it with an inlay, the dentist will create an onlay, which is, again, fabricated to fit the exact shape of your tooth and fit it over the cusp of the tooth. While onlays are more expensive than inlays, they are less expensive than crowns.
If the tooth doesn’t have to be removed completely, a dental crown is the last option. When the area needed to be covered is the smallest, the dentist uses a filling, and when the area is the largest, they use a crown.
Out of all three restoration methods, crowns are the most expensive as well as the most aggressive. Where an onlay only covers a part of the tooth, a crown completely encapsulates the biting surface of the tooth above the gum line. This is why it is often considered more of a replacement than a restoration of the tooth.
Ultimately, which method is best for you will depend on your particular case and the position of your teeth. Schedule an appointment with our expert dentists at Sylvan Heights Dental to get your teeth assessed for the perfect treatment.