My Dentist Recommended an Onlay. What is That?

My Dentist Recommended an Onlay. What is That? 

There has been an increase in broken teeth over the past year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a result of missed dental appointments and increased tooth grinding due to stress. You may be one of the many patients who never needed any dental treatment, other than your bi-annual cleanings, but all of a sudden broke a tooth. Your dentist may have recommended an onlay to repair your fractured tooth.

An onlay is a type of partial coverage restoration that covers a section of the tooth. The section of the tooth covered by the onlay is determined based on the size and location of existing fillings in the tooth, the location of any cavities on the tooth, or the area of the tooth that fractured. An onlay is indicated when a traditional filling is not strong enough to fix the tooth, but a full crown, which covers the entire tooth, is not needed. An onlay is a conservative way to repair teeth with large defective fillings or teeth that have been damaged by decay or fracture. Onlays require less tooth removal during their preparation compared to traditional full coverage crowns. They may be made out of gold or porcelain and are usually fabricated in a dental laboratory. The procedure typically requires two visits. During the first visit your dentist will shape the tooth and take an impression or a digital scan, which will be sent to a laboratory for fabrication. You will leave the office with a temporary onlay. At the second appointment, the onlay is cemented to the tooth and any necessary adjustments to the restoration are made. Some benefits of onlays include: increased strength compared to traditional fillings, stain resistance, and aesthetics.

Tamar Winters, DMD

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