Dental crowns and onlays – what’s the point?

I’m continuing my blog on the subject of frequently asked questions I hear week in week out (during “normal times” that is! – this is being written during COVID 19 lockdown.)

Dental crowns or onlays are a good idea where teeth are significantly broken down by decay, cracks, fractures or large old fillings that are failing. It’s like the next step for a tooth that can’t reliably be filled anymore. Done properly and cared for afterwards, crowns are a way of keeping your previously damaged teeth strong and healthy for the long term.

A dental crown is a restoration that covers the top of your tooth and encircles it 360° to help strengthen and reinforce it, whereas an onlay covers the whole of the biting surface, but it involves less drilling of the sides of the tooth, therefore more conservative and less destructive. That’s why I prefer to provide onlays wherever possible.

At Enhance Dental Care, we use the CEREC system to make metal-free ceramic crowns/onlays in the same visit. We scan your tooth with a camera, so no need for moulds or impressions. Then, using CAD/CAM technology we design your new tooth so that it looks great and functions well with the other teeth in your mouth. This is then “milled out” in the neighbouring room, tried in and then fired in a special furnace at 860°C to make it super tough. The beautiful ceramic material is metal free so that you don’t get a black line around the gum margin.

It is possible to get tooth decay underneath a crown, so you still need to brush and floss your teeth and be careful with sugar in your diet. Occasionally a crown might dislodge or fall off. Don’t worry, just keep it safe and bring it with you to have it rebonded back in place.

A heavily broken-down tooth that requires a crown to fix it is also a candidate for needing root canal treatment (RCT). It’s not the case that having the crown caused the tooth to need RCT, rather the tooth that was compromised in this way may need RCT as well. Root filled teeth at the back of your mouth, molars and premolars, need a crown or onlay for strength to prevent them from fracturing.

Having a crown or onlay done is a painless procedure with a high success rate. You can get rid of your large unsightly amalgam fillings in one comfortable visit. For more info, check out our dedicated website page: