I cracked a back tooth. When I went to see the endodontist, he suggested a crown but wanted my dentist to first remove the filling that was there in order to see how deep the crack went. Instead of doing that my dentist tried to mend the crack. Now one side of my tooth is okay but the other has pain whenever there is any pressure on it. My dentist is now considering doing an onlay. Will that work or will I just end up needing a dental crown anyway? I don’t want to do more unnecessary and expensive work.
It will be difficult to give you a definitive answer here because there are so many possibilities depending on the type of crack and the type of onlay. One thing I want to make sure we are clear on is whether the tooth is cracked or fractured. If the tooth can move independently, it is fractured. Treating a cracked tooth is important because it prevents a fracture.
I don’t know whether your crack is superficial or deep. That will impact the treatment as well and is why your endodontist wanted the information. There are some onlays that can help with any type of crack, but I don’t know what type of onlay your dentist is planning.
An onlay is a great tooth restoration because it only goes between the teeth instead of into the gumline, but they are harder to do. The material options are gold, porcelain, or hardened composite. A gold onlay can protect any cracked tooth as long as it covers the entire tooth surface. Porcelain onlays should only be used to deal with minor cracks. This would include a very superficial crack or a horizontal crack which only impacted the corner or cusp of a tooth. I would not recommend it as a solution to a vertical crack. A hardened composite onlay is pretty much useless in this situation. I would not recommend it as a treatment for a cracked tooth at all.
In all honesty, an onlay is a temporary solution. What I think you need is a second opinion by someone who can examine the crack. Or, you can just go ahead and get the dental crown.
This blog is brought to you by Hoffman Estates Dentist Dr. William Becker.