Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures: Inlays and Onlays vs. Crowns

Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures: Inlays and Onlays vs. Crowns

August 13, 2021

Individuals that have a broken tooth and a cavity should turn to a dentist and discuss cosmetic dentistry procedures to repair the tooth. The dental professional will offer options like crowns or inlays and onlays. However, how does one know what option to choose? This article talks about the difference between dental restoration options.

Inlays and onlays

Due to their structure, inlays and onlays are also called lab-made fillings or three-quarter crowns. Basically, they are partial dental crowns that only cover a portion of the natural tooth, approximately about a quarter or three-quarter. To know when an inlay or onlay will be required, it is necessary to ascertain why a dental filling would not work.

Fillings are created to fill in, patch or rebuild small decays on the tooth. If the affected area is too large, the filling will eventually break or fall out after some time due to the structural design. The alternative is to use inlays and onlays. If the patient still has a decent amount of healthy tooth structure and a crown would be slightly overboard, a three-quarter restoration would be a perfect choice.

Dental crowns

Assuming the fracture or decay has affected most of the tooth’s structure, putting an inlay or onlay on the tooth means there still will not be enough healthy enamel to support normal dental functions like biting and chewing. Things may seem okay at first, but eventually, the tooth could break apart totally.

In such cases, it is better to protect the remaining tooth structure by enclosing it with a dental crown, which is a popular cosmetic dentistry option. The tooth “cap” covers the entire part of the tooth above the gumlines. The crown will distribute the pressure of chewing and biting over the entire tooth surface. This will keep the tooth safe from getting damaged due to overuse or breaking.

Crowns are also suggested after a root canal since the pulp tissues have been removed from the tooth. The treated tooth is dead and tends to be more brittle since there is no longer blood supply. Crowns and root canals go together because the cap protects the tooth from additional damages. An inlay or onlay would be inappropriate in this case, since the exposed enamel could dry out and continue to damage.

What to expect with the process

Each of these procedures in cosmetic dentistry requires customizing them to the shape of the patient’s tooth. Therefore, the procedure may take more than a dental appointment. In the first appointment, the dentist will prepare the tooth by cleaning decay or performing a root canal. They will take impressions of the tooth and forward it to the dental lab to create the restoration.

The general dentist may put a temporary restoration on the tooth during the production process. Once the final restoration is ready, the patient will return for the placement procedure.

Final note

Whether requiring a crown, inlay or onlay, patients will need to seek the opinions of the general dentist about the cosmetic dentistry procedures. They will explain the options and help patients make an educated choice.

Request an appointment here: or call Holger Dental Group at (952) 777-7006 for an appointment in our Minnetonka office.

Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: Cosmetic Dentist in Minnetonka, MN.

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