The Differences Between Crowns, Onlays, Inlays, Veneers and Bridges

The Differences Between Crowns, Onlays, Inlays, Veneers and Bridges

At some point or other we will all need to get some dental work done. But how do you know you are getting the right procedure, and what is that procedure even for? You will often hear words like crowns, onlays, inlays, veneers and bridges tossed around the dentist’s rooms, but what do each of these do, and what are the differences between each one?

Whether you are looking to repair damaged and fragile teeth, fill in the gaps or polish up your smile, here are a couple of points to consider with each procedure.

Crowns, Onlays, Inlays, Veneers and Bridges – Cosmetic or Restorative?

For the most part, crowns, onlays, inlays, veneers and bridges are all used both in the cosmetic and restorative procedures. While crowns and bridges tend more to the restorative than the cosmetic, veneers are the ones that are more often used as a cosmetic procedure but can also be used to correct uneven teeth without the use of braces.

First prize when doing any dentistry work is to try and preserve as much of the tooth as possible, and this can be done by part crowns, or onlays and inlays which are stronger than normal fillings.

Crowns, Onlays and Inlays

Not just something that makes you feel pretty as a princess, a crown is used to cover and restore a damaged tooth without extraction. Sometimes referred to as a cap, this procedure is used on damaged, fractured or worn-down teeth.

A cap is placed over the entire visible tooth down to the gum and cemented in place and is common in correcting issues like repairing broken or misshapen teeth or assisting with holding a dental bridge in place as well as protecting weak teeth from breakage.

Onlays and inlays are used by dentists when they have more healthy tooth to work with. Similar to fillings but made from much stronger materials, onlays cover the cusp of the tooth while inlays fit inside as a filling would do.

Crowns can be used on children to help protect teeth from decay, as well as assisting a badly damaged tooth that can no longer hold a filling.


Of crowns, veneers and bridges, the most cosmetic procedure is veneers. Porcelain veneers are used to fix stubborn tooth discolouration that whitening treatments cannot help with. Also used to correct gaps and uneven teeth, a thin white porcelain coating is applied to your teeth.

Whether you are looking to improve on one tooth or many, veneers can be used in various situations to assist with a brighter smile.


The last procedure in the crowns, veneers and bridges debate is the bridge.

The term ‘bridge’ is pretty self-explanatory; it is a procedure where a fixed dental prosthesis replaces one or more missing teeth by joining to the adjacent permanent teeth or other implants.

However, bridges may not be ideal for everyone and it’s always best to chat with your dentist before you make the final decision.

The Differences Between Crowns, Onlays, Inlays, Veneers and Bridges 2

The CEREC method

When you are having dental work done, especially for crowns, onlays, inlays, veneers and bridges one of the worst parts of the procedure is having to return multiple times to your dentist for cleanings, impressions and final fittings.

However, with CEREC technology, multiple visit procedures can now be condensed into a single visit. Short for Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramics, or CEramic REConstruction, CEREC uses computer-aided processes to take quick exact measurements and impressions of your teeth.

This means that you can be measured and fitted with your permanent solution straight away rather than returning two or three times for fittings, temporary solutions and final procedures drawn out over several weeks.

When it comes to crowns, veneers and bridges the more exact the fit, the more comfortable you will be with the end result. By using CEREC and ensuring the exact measurements this also means the longevity and durability of your new additions will be that much improved.

While CEREC is a great advancement in technology, if patients require a large amount of complex work dentists will still use the lab for these treatments. CEREC is also not for all patients, so talk your options through with your dentist.

Please give the friendly (and gentle) team at Shine Dental a call to talk about your options on (01420) 550616.

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