Published On: February 24, 2022By Categories: Dental Crowns, Dental Health, Dental Onlays

What’s the difference between dental onlays and crowns? Is one better than the other for repairing your smile?

Dental onlays and crowns are both treatments for restoring a damaged tooth. After assessing the condition of your tooth, your dentist can recommend which of these restorations is best for you. 

What are Crowns?

A dental crown is a custom-fitted covering that encases the entire visible portion of a tooth. Crowns can be made of porcelain/ceramic, metal, or a combination of both. 

A crown may be necessary when repairing a severely cracked or broken tooth or replacing a large silver filling. While crowns are the appropriate treatment under specific circumstances, they may require removing more of the natural tooth than is necessary in many cases. 

What are Dental Onlays?

A dental onlay is essentially a partial crown. Onlays are often the best option when the damage to a tooth is too extensive for a filling, but a full crown isn’t necessary.

Because they spare as much of the healthy tooth structure as possible, dental onlays are a more conservative approach to tooth restoration than crowns. The extent of the damage—the amount of natural tooth structure already lost—is typically the deciding factor in whether an onlay or crown is the more appropriate treatment.

Minimally Invasive, Conservative Dentistry

Creekview Dental chooses minimally invasive onlays over crowns whenever possible to avoid the unnecessary removal of healthy tooth structure. 

Minimally invasive dentistry, or conservative dentistry, is a term that describes specific procedures that are less invasive than traditional methods. Minimally invasive dentistry aims to reduce damage to your natural teeth and oral tissues while achieving the same positive results that were previously only attainable using more invasive treatment methods.

Our goal when restoring your teeth is to preserve as much healthy tooth structure as possible. Minimizing the amount of drilling required causes less trauma to the tooth’s nerve, thereby reducing the likelihood of future root canal treatment.

Same-Day, One-Visit Dentistry

Many dental practices require two appointments for onlays or crowns. The dentist takes an impression at the first appointment and prepares your tooth to receive the permanent onlay or crown. The impression is then sent to an off-site dental lab so that the custom onlay or crown can be fabricated. This part of the process typically takes 2 weeks or longer and requires you to return for a second appointment to have the onlay or crown bonded into place. You also have a temporary crown in the meantime. It is glued on with temporary cement so occasionally they fall off before they are supposed to.

However, since Creekview Dental uses onsite CEREC CAD/CAM technology to create your custom onlay or crown, we can complete your treatment in a single appointment. 

The Advantages of CEREC Technology

Creekview Dental has used CEREC CAD/CAM technology since 2004 to create custom restorations for our patients—eliminating the need for a second appointment to complete your procedure. 

Advantages of CEREC technology for our patients: 

  • Your tooth repair can be completed in a single appointment that usually lasts about two hours. You’ll leave with your permanent onlay or crown the same day. 
  • Because your onlay or crown is made entirely of tooth-colored, BPA-free, metal-free ceramic porcelain material, it will look completely natural and blend beautifully with your smile. We have an on-site lab where we stain and glaze the onlay or crown to match the color of your teeth.
  • The ceramic material is resistant to plaque, anti-abrasive, and biocompatible with your mouth’s tissues. 
  • CEREC technology enables precise, minimally invasive treatment and preserves more of your natural tooth’s healthy structure. 

Creekview Dental Can Help You Choose the Best Tooth Restoration Option for Your Needs

While onlays and crowns are both beneficial treatments for restoring a damaged tooth, it’s important for your long-term dental health to choose the least invasive method that’s effective for your specific needs. 

Call Creekview Dental at 651-738-8204 or contact us today to schedule an appointment. We look forward to helping you get your smile back in shape.