Crowns vs. Onlays: What’s the Difference?

Dental crowns and onlays are restorations for individual teeth that experienced decay or damage. Typically, decay occurs from bad hygiene, trauma, or untreated dental damage, such as cavities. Restorative work is needed when the damage to the tooth warrants intervention to preserve natural tooth structure and prevent further decay.

Dental crowns and onlays are used for several reasons:

● Restoring a broken tooth
● Protecting a weak tooth
● Covering a dental implant or treatment like a root canal
● Supporting teeth with large fillings

Understanding the difference between a crown and onlay can be confusing. Fortunately, Bowden Dental is here to help! We provide both quality crowns and onlays and deliver them with the utmost care as appropriate and in accordance with the patient’s needs.
What Is a Crown?
Dental crowns are tooth-shaped caps that completely cover the biting surface of the tooth. They are typically made of porcelain or gold and can be attached to an existing, damaged tooth or replace a missing one. Or, for minor damages like cracks or chips, crowns can help reinforce the function, shape, and strength of the tooth.

Installing dental crowns is an easy and safe procedure that can be completed in two visits to Bowden Dental’s Flemington, NJ, office. The process requires the existing tooth to be cleaned and shaped to match the fit of the crown, which is fabricated in a lab from an impression taken at the first appointment. A temporary crown will be used until the permanent one can be delivered at the next visit. The final restoration is placed over the existing tooth and adhered with cement. It’s as simple as that!
What Is an Onlay?
Unlike a crown, an onlay fits over the biting surface of the tooth without completely covering the natural tooth. It is a more conservative approach to restorative dentistry for damaged or decayed teeth. Onlays can be made of composite resin, porcelain, or even gold.

Just like applying a dental crown, the process for an onlay can be completed in two appointments. During the first session, the tooth will be cleaned and the patient numbed, so the damaged or decayed parts of the tooth can be removed. Then, an impression of the tooth will be made and sent to a lab to create the onlay. A temporary onlay can be used until the next appointment, when the permanent onlay is adhered to the existing tooth.
Ensuring the Longevity of Your Crown or Onlay
On average, crowns and onlays can last around 10 years with proper care. Just like with your natural teeth, restorations are subject to damage, which is largely dependent on the quality of the restoration and your own dental hygiene practices.

Common habits that can compromise your crowns or onlays include:

● Grinding, clenching, or pulling
● Biting down on hard objects
● Accidents or trauma
● Fingernail biting

The best way to extend the life of your dental restoration is to avoid these habits and to keep up with your dental hygiene practices, such as brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist for regular cleanings. Rest assured that at Bowden Dental, we’ll use the highest-quality restorative materials and techniques to ensure the longevity of your crown or onlay.

If you’re in need of a dental crown or onlay, look no further! Contact us today to set up an appointment at Bowden Dental.


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4 Walter E Foran Blvd

Flemington, NJ 08822


Fax: 908-782-3275