What Is the Difference between a Crown, Inlay and an Onlay?

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When you come to see our cosmetic dentist in Southampton because a tooth is infected or decayed or has become badly chipped, then they may suggest restoring it with a crown, inlay or onlay. Most people are familiar with the idea of a crown or cap, but what is an inlay or onlay and how could it help your smile?

cosmetic-dentistryTaking a Closer Look at Crowns

Dental crowns cover up the entire tooth right down to the gum line so you cannot see any of the natural tooth structure. This option is great if you have a tooth that has already lost quite a bit of its original structure due to trauma or decay. Here at Smilemakers, we can make your new crown from a number of different materials which include porcelain fused to metal crowns with a precious metal substructure that is covered up with highly aesthetic porcelains, or you may wish to opt for an all-ceramic crown that is entirely metal free. Sometimes we might suggest you have a gold crown, particularly for restoring a back tooth and where your bite might be quite heavy. This is because gold is a relatively soft metal that will be a lot kinder to your opposing teeth than harder porcelain.

Taking a Closer Look at Inlays and Onlays

While crowns are an excellent solution for covering up badly damaged teeth, an inlay or onlay is a far more conservative choice that may be suggested by our Southampton dentist if you have tooth decay or damage to a back tooth. The chewing surfaces of back teeth are particularly vulnerable towards developing cavities and while we can repair small areas of decay with tooth coloured filling material, this isn’t strong enough to mend larger cavities and is why we might suggest you have an inlay or onlay.

With an inlay or onlay, we will only need to remove a minimal amount of tooth structure when preparing your tooth. The inlay or onlay is then made to fit exactly into the cavity and is bonded into place, creating a strong and hard wearing restoration enabling you to chew without fear of the tooth cracking or chipping. An inlay is designed to just repair the very central part of a back tooth whereas an onlay is a bit bigger, repairing one or more of your tooth cusps. If you take a look at your back teeth the cusps are the raised points on the tooth. Your inlay or onlay can be made from a variety of different materials that include composite resins, porcelain or gold. Our high-quality porcelain and composite resin inlays and onlays will blend in beautifully with your natural tooth colour, creating a restoration that is virtually invisible. However, just like a crown, we may sometimes suggest you think about having a gold inlay or onlay as this is extremely strong and hard wearing while being very kind to your opposing teeth as it will wear down at a similar rate to your natural tooth enamel.

When you visit our dental clinic, our Southampton dentist will explain all these options to you more fully as we want you to be able to make the right choice for your dental health. If you do need a new crown or think you might have lost a filling then please contact us on 02380 442626. Alternatively request a call back through our website at www.smilemakers.co.uk.

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