Crowns vs. Inlays and Onlays
Dental crowns, inlays, and onlays are considered to be a part of restorative dentistry. Even though enamel is one of the hardest substances in our body, due to poor oral health and hygiene, our enamel can wear away and make our teeth susceptible to damage and decay. Accidents and facial traumas can also result in chipped teeth.
To fix chipped teeth and fill cavities in your damaged or decaying teeth, your dentist will suggest getting crowns, inlays, or onlays, depending on the damage and size of the cavities. Crowns, inlays, and onlays are all quick, permanent, and painless options for treating minor tooth decay and chipped teeth. However, if your tooth has suffered a major injury, fallen out, or is completely decayed, your dentist will find tooth replacement to be a better option.
Dental crowns are like dental caps that cover your decaying or damaged teeth. The gradual build-up of acid-producing bacteria on our teeth can eat into our enamel and weaken our teeth. Weak teeth are more vulnerable to damage and decay. Weak teeth can easily break upon impact and result in cracks, chipping, or half-broken teeth.
Enamel is non-living tissue and hence cannot be regrown or restored. The only way to protect our weak teeth from further damage and decay is to protect them by placing a dental crown on them. A dental crown is a custom-made cap that fits on top of your damaged tooth. It is of the same shape, size, and color as your original tooth. Before fixing the dental crown on your tooth, your dentist will clean your damaged tooth thoroughly to remove food debris, decaying matter, and bacteria.
The dental crown will be fixed on top of your damaged tooth with the help of dental adhesives. Dental crowns are irremovable and should not be removed while eating, brushing, or sleeping. But in some cases, dental crowns do come off and need to be fixed again.
For a dental crown, materials used include; stainless steel, gold, porcelain, ceramic, or resin. Sometimes, metals and porcelain are combined together to make more durable dental crowns.
When the cavities are too big to be filled by dental fillings or bonding but too small for a dental crown, the dentist will suggest getting inlays to prevent bacterial infections, decaying, and chipping. Inlays are prepared in a dental laboratory. Your dentist will take multiple scans of your damaged tooth and send it to the laboratory so that an inlay that matches the exact shape and size of the cavity is prepared.
Your dentist will call you again to have the inlay inserted and fixed inside the cavity. Just like the missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle, the inlay fits perfectly inside the cavity, and a strong resin adhesive will be used to cement the inlay in your tooth.
Inlays can be made from ceramic, porcelain, stainless steel, metal alloys, gold, or even composite resin to provide a protective filling and covering to your dental cavities.
Depending on the type of the material used and the patient’s oral care and hygiene, inlays can last for 5 to 10 years.
In case a large portion of your tooth has been fractured from the top or sides, your dentist will recommend getting onlays for your damaged tooth. Just like inlays, onlays are made from durable materials like stainless steel, porcelain, ceramic, gold, metal alloys, and resin-composite.
But unlike crowns, onlays do not cover your entire tooth. They are made to resemble that part of your tooth that has broken or chipped off. That’s why onlays, too, are prepared in dental laboratories to match the shape, size, and color of the fractured area in your tooth.
Like dental crowns and inlays, onlays serve two purposes. First, onlays help to improve your smile as cracked and broken teeth can give you an unpleasant smile. Second, onlays protect your teeth from the build-up of bacteria and therefore prevent tooth decay and oral infections.
Before fixing the onlay on your damaged tooth, your dentist may scale the rough edges of your tooth so that the onlay fits easily on the cusps. Your dentist will then use a resin adhesive to fix the onlay permanently.
Just like the inlays, onlays can last for 5 to 10 years, depending on the material used.
If your teeth are showing signs of tooth decay or chipping at the edges, then visit us at Grove Street Family Dentistry. Tania Tran, DMD and will help you find the best treatment options for restoring your damaged teeth. Call us today at (360) 659-3200 to book your appointment.