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When a tooth is too damaged to support a  filling but not damaged enough for a dental crown, you end up somewhere in the middle. Capping a damaged tooth unnecessarily with a dental crown removes more tooth structure than is required. But a large dental filling can weaken the remaining structure of the tooth, causing the tooth to break, crack or eventually need root canal treatment.

When you are faced with the choice between a large tooth filling or a dental crown, do you save money now and risk major dental problems down the line or undergo possibly, an unwanted dental treatment?

There is a dental restoration that can solve your problem which is a dental onlay. Dental onlays fall somewhere in between dental fillings and dental crowns. Like dental inlays, onlays restore large cavities without having to use a crown.

One of These is Not Like the Other …

Dental inlays and onlays are the same kind of restoration, but they cover different portions of the tooth. A dental inlay fills the space in between the cusps, or rounded edges, at the center of the tooth’s surface. The dental onlay works like an inlay but covers one or more cusps or the entire biting surface of the tooth. Because of their extensive coverage, dental onlays are sometimes referred to as “partial crowns.

Dental onlays are more durable and usually last longer than dental fillings, but like any restoration, can still weaken the tooth’s structure. The size of the filling and type of material you choose can help determine the life of your restoration. Depending on your budget and aesthetic needs, dental onlays can be made from gold, composite resin or porcelain.

If cared for properly, a dental onlay can last up to 20years! Your best bet for preserving the life of any dental restoration is practicing excellent oral hygiene. Brushing, flossing and visiting the dentist regularly will have a significant outcome on the success of your dental onlay procedure.

A Direct Response To Your Dental Problem

There are two types of dental restorations: direct and indirect. Direct restorations are made in a dental surgery, and indirect dental restorations are made in a dental laboratory. Dental onlays are often categorized under indirect restorations, but they can be made in some dental surgeries as well.

The dental onlay procedure typically entails:

Indirect Onlays — During the first appointment, your dentist prepares the tooth by removing any tooth decay. Once the tooth is prepared, an impression is made of the tooth’s structure and then sent to a dental laboratory. Since it will take some time to create the onlay, your dentist will place a temporary dental filling to preserve the tooth. During the second dental visit, the temporary filling is removed and the dental onlay is cemented onto the tooth.

Direct Onlays — For direct dental onlays, the same preparation is used, and the tooth is filled with composite resin material. Traditionally, the filling is molded and hardened in an oven and then cemented to the tooth. But now there is a high-tech option for making direct dental onlays:

CEREC® uses 3D computer imagery and other special equipment to produce porcelain restorations in your dental surgery without using a laboratory. By simply taking an image of your tooth, your dentist can design and create dental onlays, dental inlays, dental crowns or veneers while you relax in the dental chair.  No impressions, temporary fillings or second appointments are needed!

CEREC® (Ceramic inlays and Onlays) made in one visit

The CEREC® Machine is an amazing piece of dental equipment that has advanced dentistry into the modern era.  The standard way to make an inlay or onlay was to prepare the tooth and then take an impression. Almost everyone has experienced this form of dentistry. The CEREC® is a CAD/CAM machine that mills a perfectly fitting inlay or onlay in approximately 15 minutes.  The Dentist takes the impression with a very special optical camera which sends the image to a computer.  The dentist then designs the restoration on the computer and once satisfied with the result, simply  tells the computer to make the restoration.   The only thing the dentist or technician has to do is select the proper shade/colour of the patient’s teeth.  The ceramic blank is placed in the milling machine and in about 15 minutes the restoration is finished and ready to be placed in the mouth.   This allows the inlay or onlay to be completed in a single visit.

Inlays and onlays are strong, beautiful, and effective in improving a patient’s tooth and his or her overall smile. They are a wonderful alternative to silver amalgam fillings

For further information or to discuss the risks and benefits of inlays or onlays please contact your dentist



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