Crowns & Onlays
Sometimes intervention is needed to remove large amounts of decay and even supporting structure to the tooth. Usually, this happens when a tooth has a fairly mature and advanced cavity. While fillings may still be done, sometimes we may need a different material to help increase the long term success of the tooth and restoration. Conservative dentistry is our goal for patients and a great option is a dental onlay. Onlays are essentially large dental fillings where instead of a composite material an esthetic ceramic is made to fit onto the tooth. It is prepared and bonded in such a way that it can lend strength and longevity to the otherwise compromised tooth. Using this technique of ceramic and bonding allow for a more predictable and longer lasting restoration.
Perhaps more common knowledge is the use of a dental crown. Dental crowns are typically reserved for severely compromised teeth that have lost significant structure and strength. A crown is meant to replace the entire outer covering of the tooth in hopes of protecting the softer dentin underneath and sealing out further decay. In the case of crowns, modern dentistry affords us many material options in hopes of choosing something that will last for years if not decades. Of course we have gold which is still a great choice due to similar properties to a natural tooth plus it tends to hold up very well over time. The major downside for most patients is the color. The next material is somewhat of a hybrid and not used as often today as in the past. A porcelain fused to metal crown is an alloy metal cover with feldspathic ceramic fired to it. These crowns were the estethic work horses for many decades and can still look great today.
By far the most commonly used materials today are lithium disilicate and zirconia. Both materials have their strengths and weaknesses but they both can look very life-like and the properties of each give modern dentists options, increasing the life expectancy of your tooth. This helps you keep your teeth as long as possible if not forever.