A silver filling restores the part of a tooth that has been lost to decay, but it doesn’t add strength to the tooth. This can be a problem when you have a very large cavity or when we must replace a filling because of additional decay. In cases of extensive decay, there isn’t enough tooth left to support the tooth cusps, which can cause the tooth to break.

Repairing serious damage with an onlay

We won’t use fillings to repair extensive decay because the tooth needs additional support to prevent it from breaking. To provide this support, we can use an onlay. An onlay is shaped to fit your tooth precisely and is cemented or bonded tightly in place to strengthen and protect the damaged tooth. Like a crown, an onlay covers and protects the tooth’s biting surfaces. Where a crown covers the entire tooth, an onlay fits within the tooth cusps and covers only the biting surfaces. Depending on the situation, an onlay may be made of gold, porcelain, or resin.

 Onlays cover cusps                                             A natural look

Advantages of onlays

An onlay has several advantages over a crown:

The edges of an onlay end high up on the tooth, instead of close to the gums like the edges of a crown, so it’s easier to keep teeth plaque-free along the gumline. This keeps both the tooth and gums healthy.

We need to remove less of the tooth to prepare it for an onlay than we do to prepare it for a crown, which preserves more of the tooth’s strength.

An onlay is often bonded in place, which creates a tighter seal and adds strength to the tooth.

Onlays are a wonderful option for restoring teeth that have suffered extensive decay. They add strength to a tooth, protect the biting surface, and are easy to care for.

Copyright © 2005. Patterson Dental Supply, Inc. All rights reserved. #PD 1001 10/31/04