What's The Difference Between A Dental Overlay And A Dental Crown?

When one of your back teeth is damaged due to decay or injury, you can protect it and restore its appearance by placing an overlay or a crown on it. Both forms of dental restoration will make your tooth look undamaged again, and they'll also act as a protective layer that shields your natural tooth when you chew. Overlays and crowns are similar, but there's one very important difference between the two that may influence which one you choose to restore your damaged back tooth. To learn more about the difference between overlays and crowns, read on. 

Dental Overlay

A dental overlay replaces the missing or broken top surface of one of your back teeth. They can be made from either porcelain or ceramic, so they look like your natural teeth. When you visit your dentist for an overlay, they'll take a detailed mold of the damaged tooth, then send the mold to the laboratory so that they can create an overlay that will fill in the missing or damaged space.

Once your overlay arrives from the lab, your dentist will cement it to the top of your damaged tooth. This restores your tooth's appearance and also provides protection from your tooth being damaged further when you use it to chew.

Dental Crown

A dental crown is similar to an overlay, but it covers your entire tooth instead of just the top portion. The process of getting a crown starts the same way as getting an overlay. Your dentist will take a mold of your damaged tooth, then send it to a lab so they can create a crown for it.

However, the process of placing a crown on a tooth is different from an overlay. After the crown comes back from the lab, your dentist will file down the surface of your tooth to remove some of the enamel. Afterward, your dentist will cement the crown to your tooth. The crown will cover your entire tooth above your gums, so none of your natural tooth will be visible.

If you have a damaged back tooth and you want to restore its appearance and protect it, schedule an appointment with a cosmetic dentistry clinic in your area and ask about overlays and crowns. If you're young and a good candidate to restore your tooth using a dental overlay, then that's often the best option since it will preserve your enamel. A dental crown will also restore and protect your tooth, but it carries the downside of requiring some of your enamel to be permanently removed. Your cosmetic dentist can help you find out which option is best for your personal situation based on the amount of damage to your tooth and your desire to preserve the enamel on your tooth.

Contact a local cosmetic dental service to learn more.