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A Look at Onlays vs Crowns Longevity
Dental crowns and onlays are restorations to treat a single tooth. They are explicitly made for wide areas of decay that cannot be restored using a filling or inlay. The significant difference between the two is that while an onlay covers the tooth cusp, the inlay only fills parts of the cusps.
Crowns cover the biting surface of the tooth completely, including the tooth structure above the gum line.
In contrast to crowns, an onlay is a minor restoration when possible, since a lower amount of the tooth structure must be scraped to fit the onlay. An onlay is slightly less expensive than a crown.
Most people opt for dental onlays when they have the option. That said, it may take your dentist longer to install and onlay than a crown.
Onlay vs. crown longevity
There is no specific lifetime for onlays, but most will last around 10 years.
Dental crowns, on the other hand, can last between 5 to 15 years, depending on the quality of production and the care given.
The lifespan of these two restorations largely depends on how well you maintain your dental health.
To get the best out of onlays and crowns, you must avoid habits that can put undue pressure on the teeth and shorten your appliance’s lifespan.
Also, note that the teeth below your crown or onlay must remain strong and healthy. If the tooth suffers repeated decay, the appliance may need to be removed and replaced with another form of restoration.
Repeated wear can degrade your restoration, and some habits can hasten the process. Your crown or onlay may suffer damage through:
- Teeth grinding or clenching
- Using the teeth to open packages
- Fingernail biting
- Repeatedly chewing on hard objects such as ice
- Accidents or trauma
Other factors that affect longevity
Although the materials used for onlays and crowns are impervious to decay, the underlying tooth is not. If bacteria and plaque find their way below the restoration, a cavity can form. When this happens, your dentist may need to remove the restoration to treat the tooth.
Low-quality design or poor fit
Poorly designed restorations are likely to break early, which is why your dentist will take their time when taking your mold and examining your teeth. The dentist will ensure the restoration fits your teeth snugly. If the bite force is not spread evenly over the dental arch, the crown or onlay will suffer irreversible damage.
Crowns or onlays made from porcelain-fused to metal contain a metal base. With time, the metal may start to reveal itself, changing the color to a darker shade. To extend the longevity and improve the aesthetics of the crown or onlay, choose a restoration made from porcelain or zirconia.
Should you choose onlays or crowns?
Ultimately, your dentist will examine your teeth and recommend the best option. The biggest factor will be the amount of decay.
Call our office if you would like to learn more about onlays or schedule an appointment.
Request an appointment here: or call John M. Chaves, DDS at (818) 999-2707 for an appointment in our Woodland Hills office.
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