Before modern science, if your teeth decayed, then you simply had to live with the decayed tooth or deal with the gap left in your mouth from having it pulled. In most cases, teeth that are allowed to continue to decay will eventually end up falling out anyways. However, thanks to modern technology and all the advances that have been made in dental science, you no longer have to settle for decayed teeth or missing teeth. Instead, there are plenty of dental procedures available to help restore decayed teeth and prevent them having to be pulled. One of the ways that dentists nowadays restore teeth is with dental onlays.
What Are Dental Onlays?
Dental onlays are restorative measures that are taken to restore teeth located in the back of the mouth. When the molars and premolars begin to decay and become cracked or fractured, then they need something to be done to them to protect them against further decay and to restore them to the look and function of a tooth that’s not decayed. Dental onlays are similar to dental fillings. However, instead of them being placed within a tooth to fill up a hole, they are laid upon a tooth to fill up a decayed portion that’s located on the surface of the tooth, hence the term “dental onlay.”
When Do You Need Dental Onlays?
Ideal candidates for dental onlays are people whose back teeth are too decayed for a filling to be a sufficient restorative measure, but not decayed enough that they require a full crown. Rather, dental onlays serve as the happy medium between fillings and crowns. In order for a dentist to be able to restore your teeth with dental onlays, however, you must have enough healthy tooth remaining upon which to place the onlay.
The Process of Getting a Dental Onlay
Unlike a dental filling, a dental onlay isn’t crafted right there in the dental office. Instead, it is usually sent off to a lab where it’s fabricated, which means that it generally takes at least two visits to the dentist in order for you to get a dental onlay.
During the first dental visit, the dentist will examine the affected tooth and prepare it for the onlay. To prepare the tooth, the dentist might file away any rough edges and shape the tooth as best he or she can. Next, the dental professional will take a mold of your tooth. Finally, he or she will usually create a temporary restoration that is designed to protect the tooth in the meantime while the permanent one is being fabricated. That’s basically all that consists of the first dental visit. Between the time period between the first and second dental visits, the mold is sent off to a dental laboratory where the onlay is crafted and then sent back to the dentist for placement.
During the second dental visit, the dentist removes the temporary onlay, and then the permanent one is affixed to the tooth. First, the dentist will check the onlay to ensure that it fits the tooth perfectly, and only when it does fit exactly as it should will he or she bond the onlay to the tooth. Dentists use a special adhesive resin that cements the onlay to the tooth. After the bonding resin has dried, then the dentist will polish and buff the onlay and tooth to create a smooth and seamless finish. The entire treatment process takes approximately one hour for each visit.
What to Expect After Getting Dental Onlays
After getting dental onlays, it’s normal to feel a bit of discomfort. Additionally, the newly buffed and polished surface of your tooth might feel a bit strange, but you should quickly adjust to it. Additionally, it’s not uncommon for the tissues around the tooth that got the onlay to feel a bit sore and distended, but that, too, should fade over time as you adjust to having the onlay on your tooth. If you tend to have an extremely low tolerance for dental pain and discomfort, then you can take over-the-counter medications to deal with any lingering pain or discomfort from the dental onlay procedure. Most patients, however, don’t have enough pain and discomfort after getting dental onlays to warrant the need for any medication, and prescription medication is rarely (if ever) prescribed by a dentist for patients after they’ve underwent a dental onlay procedure (unless of course they had other, more intrusive dental procedures done at the same time as well, which is always a rare occurrence).
The Benefits of Dental Onlays
More and more patients are beginning to turn to dental onlays for a variety of reasons. First of all, dental onlays tend to be extremely durable. They are usually constructed from hardy, tough materials like gold or porcelain. While porcelain has a more realistic appearance than gold, if the teeth that require dental onlays are located in the extreme back of your mouth, then the gold ones are recommended since they are actually projected to last even longer than porcelain ones. With proper care, dental onlays are projected to last up to 30 years.
To top it all off, dental onlays are supposed to strengthen the teeth as well, prolonging their lifespan. Whereas dental fillings are said to strengthen the strength of the tooth by 50 percent, dental onlays increase that strengthening rate by 25 percent, bumping it up to 75 percent. Dental onlays are more likely to more effectively prevent the need for more dental treatment in the future.
How Much Do Dental Onlays Cost and Are They Covered by Insurance?
The price of dental onlays is dependent upon numerous factors. One of the factors that determines how much it’ll cost you to get dental onlays is the dentist that you choose to go to. Just as different doctors charge different fees for their services, so do dentists. Different dentists have different levels of experience, and their fees are likely to reflect that across their practices.
Other factors that usually affect the cost of dental onlays include the location that you live in as well as the location of the tooth that needs the onlay. Yes, believe it or not, the city or area that you live in can affect how much your dental onlays cost since the prices for dental services in general can be higher in some locations than in others. Also, how difficult it is for the dentist to get to the tooth in question can affect the price of the procedure as well as how much prep work must go into readying the tooth for the dental onlay. Generally, the further the tooth is located in the back of your mouth, the more difficult it will be for the dentist to work on; consequently, the more expensive it will be. Obviously, the cost will also tend to be higher if there is more than one tooth that needs an onlay.
Likewise, the size of the onlay will affect the cost since a larger onlay will require more material for construction than a larger one. Of course, the type of material used to construct the onlay will determine the price of it as well. Naturally, gold is more expensive than porcelain, so it’ll cost you more if you choose to have your dental onlays made of gold instead of the cheaper counterpart.
In general, you can expect dental onlays to cost anywhere between $350 and $1,000 per onlay. Whether or not your dental onlays will be covered by your insurance company depends not only upon the specific type of insurance that you have as well as their rules and regulations but also upon whether the insurance company classifies your dental onlays as “basic” or “major” services. Basic dental services are usually the ones that are considered to be routine and necessary while major ones are those that aren’t necessarily considered needed, but rather are luxurious. Many insurance companies will reimburse you at a set percentage rate for basic services, and that percentage rate tends to be much higher than the percentage rate you can expect to be reimbursed at for major services. In most cases, you can consult with your dentist because dental offices that offer dental onlays services probably have plenty of experience dealing with various insurance companies and are well-acquainted with their reimbursement rates for onlays.
Consumer Guide to Dentistry. “Inlays and onlays: The indirect filling options.” Retrieved on January 31, 2017, from http://www.yourdentistryguide.com/inlays-and-onlays/.
Consumer Guide to Dentistry
4141 Jutland Drive
San Diego, CA 92117
American Dental Association. “Dental materials.” Retrieved on January 31, 2017, from http://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/dental-materials.
American Dental Association
211 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL 60611