Veneers, crowns and onlays are different types of restorations, made in a dental laboratory, that are bonded on to a prepared tooth to restore health, function and aesthetics. The main difference between the three is the degree to which they cover a tooth surface.
Veneers are thin, custom-made restorations designed to be bonded over the front surfaces of teeth. Although porcelain is the most common choice of material for veneers, composite resin veneers can also be made.
A crown (often called a ‘cap’) covers the entire exposed tooth surface to the gum line and can either be made completely out of metal, ceramic or a combination of metal-ceramic. Acrylic or composite resin crowns can also be made to serve as temporary restorations in some complex cases.
An onlay is a restoration that is designed to restore back teeth by covering only the parts of the tooth that need protecting and only extends to the gum line when necessary. Onlays are usually made completely out of metal or ceramic.
When are veneers, crowns and onlays used?
To improve the colour, shape, size and position of teeth in smile makeovers
To restore a tooth that cannot be restored with a regular filling
To protect a heavily restored tooth from future breakages and fractures
To restore a tooth that has cracked or fractured and protect the remaining parts of the tooth
To restore the form and function of a worn tooth
To improve the colour of a discoloured tooth
To protect root-filled teeth from fractures as they are usually more prone
To treat advanced decay in a tooth
To restore the form and function of a tooth that has a developmental abnormality
To close spaces between teeth
To replace an existing failing veneer, crown or onlay
A post-crown is needed when a tooth is so badly decayed that there is not enough tooth structure left to support a crown on its own, i.e. when the tooth has broken off at the gum line leaving only the root(s). A root canal filling has or will be carried out by an endodontist to prepare the tooth. The post is a rod that is cemented into the root canal filling to provide an anchor on which to place a core (made of filling material) that keeps the crown (the part that resembles a tooth) securely in place.
You will need to have at least two visits. At the first visit, your dentist will prepare the tooth, take the impressions, make a note of the shade of your tooth, and fit a temporary restoration. At the second visit, your dentist will remove the temporary restoration and fit the permanent one. There will usually be about 2-4 weeks between appointments.
Unless it is a full metal crown or onlay, we make every effort to match your new restoration to the adjacent teeth to reduce its visibility. It is very difficult to get a crown that matches perfectly due to the intricate details of a natural tooth. If you are very particular about the colour match of your restoration we can send your case to an expert technician that has an eye for high-end aesthetics.