What are Dental Onlays?
You’ve come to see us for your cleaning and examination appointment, where we’ve gathered all the information we need for Dr. Slepchik to prepare your specific dental treatment plan. We must also consider how we get to the final result when choosing what treatment to do. When we see teeth that has cuspal breakdown, there are 2 options : a crown or an onlay. Your cusps are the main contribution to chewing; if they are broken down or weakened, they must be reinforced and strengthened.
We could describe a dental onlay as a type of filling for a damaged tooth. However, this type of restoration is in a class of its own because it is not placed directly in a cavity like a standard filling. Onlays are custom-made restorations that are carved out of ceramic or porcelain material to fit over one or more cusps of a tooth. The cusps are the high points that are situated at each corner of a tooth. It is important to preserve or restore cusps because they play an integral role in chewing. Onlays are made in a dental lab using impressions from the damaged tooth and are bonded to the tooth in the next visit.
Benefits Of Dental Onlays
Dental onlay treatment is recommended for patients because it is a conservative approach to restoring teeth. An onlay outperforms a standard, direct filling because it is customized to recreate nearly 100 percent of the natural strength the tooth had before the injury or decay. At the same time, an onlay achieves excellent results without the need for extensive modification of the natural tooth. This conservative approach reduces the risk of nerve irritation in the tooth that could lead to ongoing pain. Unlike a direct metal deep filling, there is virtually no chance of extra space existing between the restoration and the tooth material.
Why does Someone Need A Dental Onlay
A dental onlay may be recommended if a tooth has sustained damage that extends over one of its corners. This is referred to as cuspal replacement. Onlays can be used to replace old amalgam fillings that have cracked or lost integrity, as naturally happens over time. Sometimes, the decay is extensive and requires more coverage to protect the tooth.
What Are Dental Onlays Made Of?
Dental onlays are made from dental porcelain. The impression is taken here in our office using our Itero which links directly to our dental laboratory. Following the preparation appointment, it takes about 2 weeks for the lab to make it. You return to our office and the onlay is permanently cemented in your mouth. Dental porcelain is also extremely durable and looks just like a natural tooth.
Dental Onlay Procedure
If a dental exam reveals tooth damage, Dr. Slepchik evaluates the extent of degradation so the most suitable repair can be made. Your options are fully explained, allowing you to make a confident decision regarding the care that will provide you with the best outcome. The preparation for your dental onlay can begin during the same visit.
To prep the tooth for its new restoration, the minor reduction will be performed under local anesthetic that numbs the tooth. Reduction only removes the part of the tooth that has been damaged. An impression is then taken. This will be used to create a model of the tooth that will serve as a guide for the new onlay. A temporary restoration is placed over the tooth and all models and specifications are sent to the dental lab.
A second visit is needed to affix the final onlay to the tooth. After removing the temporary and any dental cement that has adhered to the tooth, the onlay is set into place. A few assessments are conducted to ensure the onlay is well-situated on the tooth and also that it fits naturally against the opposing tooth when you bite down. Once all aspects of the onlay are satisfactory, a bonding material is applied and hardened with a high-intensity light.
Dental Onlays Before & After
Onlays Vs. Dental Crowns
The primary difference between an onlay and a dental crown is that one fits onto the top and side part of a tooth and the other covers the tooth completely. Crowns used to be considered the gold standard when extensive restoration was necessary. However, more dentists and their patients are choosing onlays at this time. The reason is that onlay treatment is more conservative than a dental crown. To place a crown, it is necessary to remove a large portion of natural tooth structure. An onlay only requires that damaged enamel be removed.
Fitted over only the upper aspect of the tooth, an onlay is bonded into place. The bonding process creates tight margins that cannot be penetrated by bacteria. There is no soft tissue around the onlay as there is around the gumline margins of a crown. Because gum tissue can become inflamed and may recede away from the crown, there is a slight risk of infection at some point.
Both crowns and onlays can be made to look just like a natural tooth. Both have a comparable life span.
Alternatives To Dental Onlays
Patients may consider a dental filling or dental crown as an alternative to an onlay. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Fillings may repair teeth in a single visit. However, the application technique is generally not as durable and long-lasting as an onlay. A dental crown can provide substantial coverage for a tooth but requires more enamel reduction than is necessary with an onlay. During your visit, we are happy to discuss all appropriate treatment options based on the damage your tooth has sustained.
How Long Do Dental Onlays last?
A dental onlay can last 10 to 15 years or more. The lifetime of an onlay may be affected by a number of factors, such as the location of the restoration in the mouth, the material selected for the onlay, and dental hygiene after treatment.
How do dental onlays look?
Once an onlay is in place, it may look no different than your natural teeth. Even onlays made of gold are very discreet and hardly noticeable when placed on posterior teeth.
Onlays are a strong and stable option for minimal tooth reconstruction or filling. Regular brushing and flossing, as well as regular dental checkups, should be continued after the procedure is complete.