I have found myself have a discussion with patients lately about something called an onlay. Leave it to dentists to use a lot of dental tooth-speak technical jargon to confuse patients. So what is this “over-lay” thing Dr. Matt? Actually it’s an onlay, but never mind what it’s called, let me tell you what it is and why I love them.
An onlay is kind of like a mix between a filling and a crown. The onlay gives you the strength of a crown, but only for the part of the tooth that needs it. So here is a list of some of the benefits of one of my favorite types of tooth restorations (I know. I should get a life…)
1) Better Fit. Since onlays are made outside of the mouth and then bonded to the tooth, they can be fabricated with a superior fit. This means that the tooth will be sealed better and provide better longevity.
2) Durability. Onlays are made of materials such as porcelain, composite, and gold. These materials are manufactured under well-controlled conditions to provide better mechanical properties when compared to fillings. This means that onlays are made of stronger materials to last a long time.
3) Supports weakened teeth. The more of a tooth that has been destroyed by a cavity, the weaker the tooth, and the more susceptible the tooth is
to fracture. Onlays can support teeth that have been weakened and help prevent fracture of the tooth. Fillings typically do not provide any support.
4) Conservative. This one I really like. Onlays provide the strength and support of a crown, but only where it is needed. So in other words, you don’t have to remove as much tooth structure as you would with a crown. The result is a strong restoration that fits into the tooth like a piece of a puzzle fits.
These are just a few of the reasons that I like to recommend onlays to patients. They are a great option when replacing old fillings to help prevent placing a crown on the tooth.
Our office has the technology to place these onlays in a single visit. CEREC technology allows us to use a computer to make the onlay in the office so you do not have to wear a temporary for two weeks while it is being made in the lab.
Here’s an example of a tooth that we worked on recently. The old silver amalgam was removed, and a ceramic onlay was placed. All in a single visit!!