Patients facing cavities often find themselves choosing between different treatments: Inlays and Onlays vs. Crowns. As dental technology advances, the number of available treatment options continues to grow. While this is beneficial, it can also make the decision-making process a bit daunting.

 

Cavities are a prevalent issue, and dental fillings are typically the first line of treatment, especially in their initial stages. However, for larger decay, a simple filling might not suffice. In such cases, dentists often recommend either inlays and onlays or crowns. Both treatments have their own set of advantages and require careful consideration of their benefits.

 

In this blog post, we’ll understand the differences between inlays and onlays versus crowns. We’ll use straightforward explanations, comparative tables, and practical examples to help you understand which option might be better for your specific situation.

 

UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN INLAYS AND ONLAYS AND CROWNS

Both inlays/onlays and crowns are effective dental treatments that aim to restore teeth that have decay. However, understanding how they work can help you have a more educated discussion with your dentist about your treatment plan.

To start, inlays and onlays are types of dental restorations used to treat cavities that are too large for a standard filling. Typically made from porcelain or composite materials, these restorations cover a significant portion of the tooth surface. Due to their extensive coverage and how they are applied, inlays and onlays are sometimes referred to as partial crowns. Inlays fit within the cusps, or bumps, of a tooth, whereas onlays extend over the cusps onto the broader chewing surface of the teeth.

Dental crowns, on the other hand, are more than just a repair, they are more of a tooth replacement. The decay is removed and cleaned, then a cap (crown) is placed on the tooth. The entire tooth structure above the gum line is protected by a crown so that no natural tooth is exposed after the treatment. You can find crowns made of various materials such as metals, zirconium porcelain, ceramic, or resin.

 

If we compare Inlays and Onlays vs. Crowns, the basic difference is the area they cover on the tooth. Inlays and onlays cover a part of a tooth while crowns cover the whole tooth above the gum line. As you can understand, crowns are used for more severe cavities or decays compared to inlays and onlays. Both treatments can be prepared in the same dental lab using the desired dental cement.

WHEN ARE INLAYS AND ONLAYS THE BEST OPTIONS FOR TOOTH RESTORATION?

Inlays and onlays are typically recommended for moderate levels of tooth decay, specifically when the decay is too extensive for a filling but most of the tooth remains healthy and intact. In these situations, dentists clean the affected area and then choose between an inlay or onlay based on where the decay is located.

 

It’s also important to discuss additional details with your dentist, like the materials used (to avoid potential allergies or sensitivities), aftercare routines, and the cost of the procedure. With proper care and oral hygiene, an inlay or onlay can last between 20 to 30 years.

 

WHEN FULL CROWNS ARE THE BEST CHOICE FOR RESTORING YOUR TEETH?

Crowns are another option for fixing a severely damaged tooth. They are best used when a tooth is greatly decayed, cracked, or otherwise damaged, with little of its healthy part remaining. Crowns help hold together the cracked parts of a tooth and restore its original shape and form. However, they typically cover a larger area than inlays or onlays.

 

Similar to inlays and onlays, you can find crowns made from different materials. Zirconia crowns, for example, can last for about 20 years with proper dental care.

 

CARING FOR YOUR INLAYS AND ONLAYS OR CROWNS

Caring for inlays, onlays, or crowns involves a routine similar to the one you use for your natural teeth. The key to maintaining them is regular brushing and flossing.

 

Additionally, if you’ve had an inlay, onlay, or crown placed, it’s wise to avoid biting down on hard or sticky foods, as these can damage or displace the restoration. Also, be mindful of very hot or cold beverages, as they might cause sensitivity, particularly soon after your treatment.

 

For more information about Dental Crowns, please visit our dedicated page: Dental Crowns