You may have noticed a sensitivity to one of your teeth and immediately think it is a cavity. You walk into your dentist’s office thinking you need simple filling. What you didn’t expect to hear from the dentist is that your tooth is so damaged that a filling may do more damage to the tooth instead of protecting it.
Your dentist mentions that in your case, the best options are either an inlay, onlay and a crown.
You prefer not to get a crown as they can be expensive. At the same time, you’re not completely sure what the difference is between an inlay and an onlay.
What are the differences between the three and which one will be best for your situation?
Your dentist will likely go into detail about each of these options and make a recommendation as to which one they believe will be restore your tooth.
Below is a short summary of what your dentist will likely tell you:
What are Inlays and Onlays?
Both inlays and onlays are used to restore teeth that are too damaged for fillings, but don’t need crowns, such as teeth with a severe cavity.
Both inlays and onlays are very similar and provide the same purpose to improve the structure and stability of teeth as well as help strengthen the teeth. Inlays and onlays are made of porcelain, gold and composite resin and they are both applied to a portion of the chewing surface of a tooth.
The only difference between inlays and onlays are where on the tooth chewing surface they are applied.
The chewing surface of your teeth contain bumps, called cusps. The bumpy surface of the teeth help the teeth to better hold food in place while chewing. It is also full of crevices where germs and plaque can easily accumulate. For this reason, cavities tend to originate in this area of teeth.
Regular fillings are applied to holes and deep crevices on the chewing surface of the teeth to keep additional germs and decay from destroying the tooth. Bad cavities that cover more surface of this area of the tooth will most likely need and inlay or onlay.
Inlays are applied to the chewing surface of teeth usually between the cusps (or bumps) of the teeth. They can help restore the strength of a tooth by covering, smoothing out or reshaping an area around a cusp.
In some cases, inlays are either used in place of metal amalgam fillings or are used to restore damage to the tooth because of a metal filling.
Onlays, on the other hand, go over and restructure and smooth out a larger area on the teeth chewing surface. They usually cover the entire chewing surface of a tooth. Onlays are sometimes called partial crowns as they commonly cover the entire top (or chewing) surface of a tooth.
Both inlays and onlays are the less expensive options compared to crowns and are best for teeth that don’t have extensive or deep decay.
What are Crowns?
Sometimes a tooth is either too damaged or too much surface of the tooth is damaged that a crown is needed instead.
A crown is a protective covering made of gold, silver, porcelain and resin composite that goes over the tooth. The crown is secured onto the surface of the tooth with dental bonding.
Crowns are a treatment option for different kinds of dental issues including fractured, broken teeth, weak teeth and teeth that are severely misshapen.
Which One is Right For Me?
When determining whether an inlay, an onlay or a crown is the best option for your situation, you should consider the price, how long the treatment will last, how fast you’ll need your tooth restoration, and the extent of the cavity damage to the tooth.
Only your dentist will be able to provide the most thorough information about each of these three options and suggest the best course of action needed to restore and preserve your teeth as best as possible.
Inlays, onlays and crowns are great options to halt further damage to your teeth from cavities, broken, cracked and fractured teeth.