Crowns vs. Inlays and Onlays
Tooth restoration is a very important step following the decay or damage of the tooth. We always encourage our patients to restore over extraction whenever possible. Small restorations or repairs can be completed with filling materials such as composite. Larger restorations require something with more strength and structure, such as a dental crown, an inlay or an onlay. These prosthetics are made from stronger, more resilient materials such as porcelain, ceramic, zirconia, and more. At Jon C. Packman DDS, our team can discuss the attributes of the various restoration options and help you decide which is best for your needs.
Dental crowns, inlays and onlays are used as a prosthetic device to cover and protect areas that have been damaged. The damage can occur from decay, breakage, or fracture. The goal is to make the tooth whole again, providing it additional strength and fortitude in areas of weakness. Each provides benefits, though differ in design.
A dental crown is not a full new tooth, but a thin covering that is customized to fully surround and encase the tooth. This is why it is sometimes referred to as a cap or caps. The outer visible appearance is a replica, or perfected replica, of the original tooth, customized to match your original bite. It will serve as a shield, providing a hard layer of protection to the natural tooth beneath.
To place a dental crown over a natural tooth, we need to reduce and shape the original tooth in size to fit. The reduction in size is permanent. For some patients, this permanent alteration is not ideal, as some prefer a more holistic or low impact approach. Dental inlays and onlays provide that more directed treatment option.
Dental Inlay or Onlay
Opposed to the whole covering that a dental crown provides, a dental inlay or onlay is customized to restore just the damaged portion of the tooth. Using the same materials of a crown, we can still provide a layer of protection while not disrupting the healthy portions of the natural tooth structure. A dental inlay is customized to fit inside a tooth, often following the removal of a large amount of decay in the flat area of a molar. A dental onlay is customized to fit an outer portion of a tooth, where decay, breakage or fracture may have occurred. Dental inlays and onlays are placed with very little of the natural tooth removed, leaving much of the natural tooth intact.
Should the tooth just be extracted?
In the past, the extraction of teeth was much more common. We still have patients today question whether a tooth should just be pulled versus the cost of repair. Restoring and rebuilding a tooth can be expensive, but the expense of pulling a tooth can be so much more in the long run. It may not seem significant to lose a single tooth, but it is the start of a runaway problem. When a tooth is lost, there are some immediate changes and some long term changes. Immediately, the jawbone in that spot will begin to atrophy, or diminish in size. This would happen to any bone that is not being used. Additionally, there is now room for neighboring teeth to roam, and they rarely roam in a direction that we would find beneficial. Roaming teeth means changes to our bite, leading to changes in our jaw hinge, and the cascade of effects grow to a significant problem.
We invite you to learn more about restoring damaged teeth through the use of a dental crown, inlay or onlay. For more information, contact our Statesville office at (704) 978-7060.