A guide to onlays to conservatively rebuild teeth

Happy patient with the doctor

We live the values conveyed in our name, Creo Dentistry. As “creo” suggests, Dr. Dan Hwang and our skilled team use their ingenuity to create a new tooth structure that looks, feels, and functions like the “real deal.” From our office in Marysville, Washington, we replace small cavities with fillings just as skillfully as we replace an entire tooth from the “root upward” with dental implants. The “magic” is in how we design the toothlike dental materials to rebuild parts (or all) of a tooth. We offer a range of dental restorations to repair teeth, including partial crowns (dental onlay treatment).

An intro to dental onlays

Patients may be familiar with dental crowns. Fewer patients are familiar with dental onlays. An onlay is a conservative alternative to a full-coverage crown. For this reason, onlays are often referred to as “partial crowns.” Due to our approach to rebuilding teeth, Creo Dentistry only replaces the portions of the teeth that are irreparably damaged or otherwise lost due to decay. Healthy natural tooth structure remains untouched and is preserved. Conservative techniques and materials that also preserve maximum natural tooth structure, generally promote the most “toothlike” appearance, as well as the most natural feel, lasting durability, and optimal function (biting and chewing efficiency).

Dr. Hwang may determine that you are a great candidate for onlay treatment if:

  • You have a fracture or damage that cannot be resolved with modifications to oral hygiene and products designed to remineralize the teeth alone.
  • The damage is too large to be adequately treated with a “simple” filling.
  • A large filling would leave the tooth vulnerable to further damage and breakage.
  • A full-coverage crown is not necessary to resolve the damage.

We don’t believe in introducing more dental material than is necessary to treat a tooth. The more healthy a structure that we can preserve, the better the tooth can stand “on its own” over the long term. The process itself is really no more extensive than placing a filling. As with other types of restorations, Dr. Hwang “prepares” the dental material, such as ceramic-like porcelain. The material is, for instance, perfectly color-matched to blend in with the rest of the tooth. The damaged tooth itself must also be shaped, and all decayed tissue removed. In this manner, it’s like starting over with your damaged tooth and giving it a clean slate.

The prepared material is further shaped to fit perfectly within those damaged parts of the tooth. Think of the process as akin to putting together the pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. Onlays generally cover the surface of the tooth between the two points (or cusps), as well as at least one point. To find out more about the process and what to expect before, during, and after treatment, Creo Dentistry encourages you to schedule an appointment with Dr. Hwang. Call (360) 502-7217.