Many times when we are upgrading old mercury fillings, patients are faced with the decision to do either composite fillings or more durable restorations called onlays.
While both composite fillings and onlays are very aesthetic, the biggest difference between the two is the strength of the material. White fillings, also called “bonding” is actually composite which is a fancy word for plastic. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very strong plastic but it is much better suited to very small fillings or ones on front teeth that aren’t generally getting a lot of force put on them. Onlays however, are much stronger as they are made from materials like porcelain or zirconia. Back teeth that do most of our chewing are better suited for onlays than fillings.
Here is an example of some fillings on molars as they fail. Note how the edges of these fillings appear rough and if you look close you can actually see cracks in the filling material as well as the enamel surrounding them (you may have to click on it to enlarge it).
Sadly, the biggest motivator for patients to choose the fillings over the onlays is cost. Fillings are typically much cheaper, and onlays generally cost about the same as a crown. If you’re someone that enjoys sitting in a chair for dental procedures, you may prefer having it replaced a few times through the years, but most of us (myself included) like to keep those visits to a minimum.
These days, just like our crowns we can make these in one appointment for patients (cerec).
Here is an example of an onlay.
Yes, it is pretty just like a composite, but don’t be fooled – it is a much better fix for a tooth.
If we can help in any way, contact us.