Most dentists strive to protect as much of your natural tooth structure as they can. There are some very good reasons for this, including preservation of the underlying bone of your jaw. In a case where the damage to a tooth is too severe for a filling, Dr. Patel may choose to use a porcelain onlay to protect your tooth while keeping as much of your natural tooth intact as possible.
Crowns and Onlays—The Difference
The difference between a porcelain crown and a porcelain onlay is largely a matter of the degree of coverage. A crown covers your entire tooth, all the way to the gumline. An onlay, as pictured to the right, is designed to cover only the portion of the tooth that is damaged. An onlay is considered a more conservative treatment than a crown, in that is preserves more of the natural tooth structure. With a crown, the natural tooth must be prepared for the crown to fit over it, which can at times involve removing healthy portions of the natural tooth.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Porcelain Onlays
- Onlays allow more of the natural tooth structure to be preserved.
- Because onlays do not go down to the gumline, they tend not to irritate the gum the way crowns can.
- Porcelain onlays typically look extremely natural.
- Conversely, porcelain onlays may not be as strong as crowns, which can make them more likely to crack if they aren’t done properly.
- Onlays require a lot of skill to place properly, and so you must be very sure of the skill set of your dentist.