Dental Inlays, Onlays, Crowns and Bridges
What is a dental inlay?
A dental inlay is an indirect custom-made dental filling made of either metal or tooth-coloured materials (i.e., composite or ceramic). They are specially fabricated in a professional dental laboratory using an impression of your prepared teeth, and later permanently cemented onto your tooth by your dentist.
They are often used when teeth have large cavities left by old defective fillings, decay or trauma. Generally, they are more long-lasting compared to your traditional direct dental filling.
What is a dental onlay?
A dental onlay is a custom-made cap which replaces the biting surfaces of your teeth (i.e. chewing cusps). Some people may also refer to them as partial or half-crowns. They can be made from either metal or tooth-coloured materials (i.e., composite or ceramic) to restore the original shape and size of your teeth. A dental onlay offers protection for teeth which have been structurally compromised due to large cavities left by large defective fillings, decay, or wear. Similar to dental crowns, they offer protection to the vulnerable underlying tooth. Where possible, an onlay may be more conservative than crowns as less tooth structure is removed in the preparation of onlays.
What is a dental crown?
A dental crown is a covering/cap that encases the entire tooth surface, restoring it to its original shape and size. They are specially fabricated in a professional dental laboratory using an impression of your prepared teeth, and later permanently cemented onto your tooth by your dentist.
They are used when teeth cannot be restored with conventional dental fillings or other types of restorations. In cases where there is a cracked tooth, or when tooth structure is severely compromised, a dental crown may act to protect the remaining tooth structure from damaging forces during daily wear and tear.
What is a dental bridge?
A dental bridge is a fixed (non-removable) option of replacing missing teeth. The conventional design for a bridge consists of two crowns that go over two anchoring teeth (abutment teeth) and are attached to pontics (artificial teeth), filling the gap created by one or more missing teeth. In some instances, a cantilever design may be selected, depending on your case. They can be made with metal or tooth-coloured materials.
How long can I expect my dental inlay/onlay/crown/bridge to last?
As these prostheses are custom-made with the finest attention to detail, and cemented with highly adhesive dental cements, your dental inlay/onlay/crown/bridge has the potential to last many years. However, as with any other dental restoration, they require regular monitoring and may eventually need to be replaced in the long-run. The best way to maximise the life span of your dental prosthesis is to maintain good oral hygiene, correct any damaging oral habits, and to visit your dentist regularly for maintenance.