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Dental Onlays: Indirect vs. Direct
If you have a cavity, your dentist might recommend dental onlays. Onlays are indirect restorations. Learn more about direct versus indirect restorations and how onlays can improve your smile and oral health.
Indirect vs. direct dental restorations
People with damaged teeth can get direct or indirect dental restorations. Both are used to improve the function of teeth that have been damaged. It is important to choose the right type of dental restoration.
Indirect dental restorations
Dental onlays are one of the most common indirect dental restorations available. Like other indirect restorations, onlays are created in a laboratory. The laboratory technician makes the restoration by using impressions dentists take of the teeth. Since indirect restorations are fabricated based on impressions, they provide a tight and secure fit. The restoration is placed in the prepared area and bonded to the existing tooth.
Direct dental restorations
Direct dental restorations are not fabricated in a dental lab. Instead, these restorations are applied in one visit. Dental fillings are the most common of the direct dental restorations. Dentists remove the decay and apply the filling material in a single visit. The filling material is often made of composite resin.
Which option is the right choice?
Dentists choose between direct and indirect dental restorations based on the needs of the patient. If the tooth has limited damage and is still strong, a direct restoration is often sufficient. However, if the tooth has suffered from extensive damage, an indirect restoration will be required. Indirect restorations such as onlays provide additional support for the tooth.
The onlay procedure
Onlays cover the chewing surface of the tooth, along with one or more of the cusps. Onlays are often referred to as partial crowns since the prosthesis covers a large portion of the tooth. Dentists begin the process by removing the decay and preparing the tooth. Dentists take impressions and fit patients with temporary onlays.
When the onlay comes in, patients go back to the dentist. The dentist removes the temporary onlay and replaces it with the permanent one. Onlays can strengthen the existing tooth by as much as 75 percent. The tight fit prevents food and bacteria from building up underneath the dental restoration, reducing the risk for additional decay.
Materials used for onlays
Because onlays are customized in a laboratory, various materials are available. Porcelain onlays are the most popular choice since the material blends in with the natural teeth. Some people choose gold due to the durability, but the metal does not blend in with the teeth. Patients also have the option of choosing composite onlays. Dentist help patients choose the material when getting onlays. Durability, aesthetics and cost are considered when selecting a material.
Do you need dental onlays?
If your tooth has a great deal of damage, you might be able to restore it with an onlay. Onlays are fabricated in a laboratory and customized to fit your tooth. Onlays provide strength and durability to the existing tooth and can be created to look like natural teeth. Talk to your dentist to determine if a direct or indirect restoration is the right choice for you.
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