Crowns vs. Inlays and Onlays
When a tooth becomes damaged from disease, fracture, or breakage, we can restore the shape and fortify the structure with a dental prosthetic such as a crown, inlay, or onlay. These devices can help save a tooth that could otherwise be lost. At Janice K. Pliszczak, DDS, we recommend taking action to save a tooth structure whenever possible.
Our teeth are a wonderful tool that our body provides for us. They are designed with a hard outer enamel layer that is strong and allows us to break down food multiple times a day. Even still, enamel is subject to damage. We can develop caries or cavities, we can break teeth from falls, playing sports or from accidents. When a tooth has become damaged, we can correct the shape of the structure and provide a layer of strength through the use of a dental prosthetic.
A dental crown is a prosthetic that is generally more familiar to patients. It is sometimes referred to as a cap. This is because a crown is customized to fit over the tooth, fully encasing it on all sides. Dental crowns are made to match the original tooth in size, shape, and bite. Crowns are available in a wide variety of materials. Each material comes with different attributes. Some may be better depending on which tooth is being capped. We can review the options and discuss which may be best for you. Dental crowns provide many benefits including saving the original structure and providing a strong outer layer to compromised enamel. The downside of a dental crown is the dramatic alteration of the tooth to fit the crown. Before fitting the crown, we need to reduce the original tooth by shaving it down. This is a permanent alteration. Some patients prefer a less invasive procedure. A dental inlay or onlay provides additional strength without the dramatic alteration of the original tooth.
Dental Inlay and Onlay
Placing a dental inlay or onlay is often considered a more holistic approach. Instead of fully encasing the original tooth, we customize a smaller piece of material to cover just the damaged portion. A dental inlay is customized to fit inside the wide area of a molar, often following the removal of decay or root canal therapy. A dental onlay is customized to fit the outer wall of a damaged tooth, often due to fracture or breakage. This inlay or onlay piece is sometimes referred to as a partial crown, or a ¾ crown because it covers a portion but not the entire tooth. The benefit of a dental inlay or onlay is less interference with the natural tooth structure. We only need to remove any diseased portion of the tooth before placement is done. Inlays and Onlays are sometimes regarded as “indirect” fillings.
Caring for your Dental Crown, Inlay, or Onlay
Following the placement of your prosthetic, we will provide you with more specific care instructions specific to your needs. In general, you will want to take care of your dental crown, inlay, or onlay with the same hygiene routine as your other teeth. You will want to brush and floss around it daily and be cautious of only biting down on food, avoiding chewing on ice, pens, or other non-food items. We will review the status of your prosthetic at all future dental checkups. Call Janice K. Pliszczak, DDS at (315) 800-5020 to see if inlays and onlays are right for you!