If you have a tooth that has experienced damage or a large filling that doesn’t match the rest of your smile, you may want to change its appearance. Cosmetic dentistry is a very versatile form of dental care that can help you achieve a more even smile as well as improve the function or strength of a chipped or misshapen tooth.
There is often some overlap between restorative and cosmetic dental care, meaning that many services are both restorative and cosmetic in nature depending on the goal of the patient and the dentist. Great examples of this are inlays, onlays, and veneers. All three services have the potential to help you repair or reshape a tooth.
Here are the answers to a few questions you might have about onlays, inlays, and veneers.
Onlays and inlays are both traditional restorative procedures that have aesthetic benefits. They are typically created from dental porcelain and provide more strength and coverage than a filling. This is why a tooth with a moderate cavity may receive an inlay or onlay when a filling wouldn’t be adequate but a crown may not necessarily be needed.
An onlay or inlay would be appropriate if the cosmetic or structural damage to the tooth is limited to the top, or crown, of the tooth. There is an important distinction between onlays and inlays, however, and it has to do with where they’re placed.
An inlay is characterized by restoring only the chewing surface between the cusps, while an onlay extends over at least one cusp. The easiest way to remember the difference is that an onlay is laid on the tooth, while an inlay is laid within the tooth.
The advantages of onlays and inlays include:
The potential drawbacks of onlays and inlays include:
Porcelain veneers are the quintessential cosmetic dental solution for smile makeovers. This treatment uses thin porcelain shells to cover the visible surface of the teeth. Contrary to popular belief, veneers don’t necessarily have to cover your entire smile. Since each veneer is separate from one another, your dentist can apply only a single veneer if needed.
Veneers would be most appropriate if you want to completely change the aesthetic of one or more teeth. A veneer will cover the entire visible tooth, including any chips, unevenness, or discoloration. Veneers are also a good choice if you have more than one tooth you’d like to change.
The advantages of veneers include:
The potential drawbacks of veneers include:
If your tooth’s cosmetic problem is limited to the crown, an onlay or inlay would be a great way to repair mild to moderate damage without compromising aesthetics.
If your tooth’s problem is mostly cosmetic and is limited to the lip or cheek side of the tooth, veneers would be the way to go. For example, if your tooth is slightly misshapen, permanently discolored, or superficially cracked, a veneer will address it all.
The only way to know for certain which treatment option is right for your smile is through a consultation with an experienced dentist. They will perform a thorough evaluation of your teeth and offer knowledgeable advice on whether an inlay, onlay, or veneer is most appropriate for your smile goals.
First Dental Associates offers complete dental care services for individuals and families living in and around Reading, Massachusetts. Our team provides restorative and cosmetic dentistry, including onlays, inlays, veneers, and other smile makeover solutions.
To discover how you can achieve your best smile yet, give our office a call or use our online form to schedule a consultation.