Inlays, onlays and crowns are called indirect restorations, because the restoration is fabricated outside of the mouth, instead of being built in layers directly into the teeth like a filling. The dentist takes impressions of the teeth, then the restoration is shaped to match the part of the tooth it will replace. The restoration is attached with dental cement.
An indirect restoration is an inlay if it covers part of a tooth, without extending to a cusp (pointed tip of tooth). It is an onlay if it extends to replace a tooth’s cusp. And if it complete covers the top surface of the tooth, it is called a crown or cap.
Inlays, onlays and crowns are more effective than fillings in reinforcing teeth to withstand biting forces, and more resistant to further decay. If a tooth’s original structure is too compromised to support a filling, these indirect restorations can provide fantastic, long-lasting, beautiful results.
A crown procedure usually requires two appointments. Your first appointment will include taking several highly accurate molds (or impressions) that will be used to create your custom crown. A mold will also be used to create a temporary crown which will stay on your tooth for approximately two weeks until your new crown is fabricated by a dental laboratory.
While the tooth is numb, the dentist will prepare the tooth by removing any decay and shaping the surface to properly fit the crown. Once these details are accomplished, your temporary crown will be placed with temporary cement and your bite will be checked to ensure you are biting properly.
At your second appointment your temporary crown will be removed, the tooth will be cleaned, and your new crown will be carefully placed to ensure the spacing and bite is accurate.
You will be given care instructions and encouraged to have regular dental visits to check your new crown.