Crowns are a cosmetic restoration used to strengthen a tooth or improve its shape. Crowns are most often used for teeth that are broken, worn, or partially destroyed by tooth decay. Crowns are cemented onto an existing tooth and fully cover the portion of your tooth above the gum line. In effect, the crown becomes your tooth’s new outer surface. Crowns can be made of porcelain, metal, or both. Porcelain crowns are most often preferred because they mimic the translucency of natural teeth and are very strong.
Crowns are needed when there is insufficient tooth strength remaining to hold a filling. Unlike fillings, which apply the restorative material directly into your mouth, a crown is fabricated away from your mouth. Your crown is created in a lab from your unique tooth impression, which allows a dental laboratory technician to examine all aspects of your bite and jaw movements. Your crown is then sculpted just for you so that your bite and jaw movements function normally once the crown is placed.
Inlays and Onlays
Dental inlays and onlays are restorations used to repair rear teeth with mild to moderate decay or cracked and fractured teeth that are not sufficiently damaged to need a crown. Ideal candidates for inlay or onlay work typically have too much damage or decay in the tooth structure to be successfully treated using a filling, but have sufficient healthy tooth remaining to avoid the need for a crown. This allows the dentist to conserve more of the patient’s original tooth structure.
There are other benefits to inlays and onlays in comparison to metal fillings:
- Inlays and onlays are durable — they’re made from tough, hard-wearing materials which last up to 30 years.
- They help to strengthen teeth by up to 75 percent, unlike traditional metal fillings which can actually reduce the strength of the teeth by up to 50 percent.
- Inlays and onlays prolong tooth life and prevent the need for more dental treatment in the future.
Dental inlays and onlays are used when old fillings need to be removed or replaced. A dental inlay is similar to a filling and fits inside the cusp tips (top edges) of the tooth. A dental onlay is more extensive and extends over the cusps of the treated tooth.
During treatment Dr. Fong removes the old fillings under local anesthesia and takes an impression of the tooth, which is sent to the dental laboratory. The new inlay or onlay is made from this mold in porcelain, gold or composite resin material. The inlay or onlay is then cemented into place at the next appointment. The inlay or onlay blends successfully with the treated tooth and the rest of the teeth to achieve a natural, uniform appearance.