Single-Visit Crowns and “Onlays”

Who needs them?

You might’ve been told you need a crown. Why not a filling instead? A crown does a better job at protecting a tooth from fracturing than a filling does. So, if there’s a lot of tooth structure missing or a large filling is being removed or there are inherent fracture lines or cracks in a tooth, a crown or an “onlay” is a much better option. In this office, we believe it’s important to save as much of the tooth as possible. So if we need the extra strength that crowns provide and the tooth still has a lot of enamel remaining, rather than do a “full” standard crown, we’ll take advantage of bonding technology and do “onlay” crowns. We prefer onlays: compared to a standard crown, onlays are more conservative. And conservation of tooth structure is always a good thing. Whichever one we make, they’re metal-free, made from all-ceramic porcelain. Why is that important? Because they can be much more natural-looking! And they’re extremely strong. Gone are the days where we needed to do gold! And besides, there is controversy regarding “galvanic” action with metal in the mouth (see my Holistic Dentistry tab).

Very few dental offices can do a crown from start to finish in one visit.

But we can because we have a CEREC machine.

For any of you that have had crowns made in the past, you remember the dentist preparing the teeth, taking a messy impression (hard for gaggers), making an ill-fitting “temporary” crown that you had to be extremely careful with (and most likely came off before your next crown-seating appointment), and then returned for the final seating of the crown. But not in this office! Instead of impressions, the prepared tooth is scanned with a camera. That information is transferred onto a computer software program where we design the crown (while you watch if you want to) and then a porcelain block is carved down to that shape with a CAD-CAM milling machine. Takes about 12-18 minutes. Amazing technology! The CEREC computer allows you to get your treatment done start-to-finish in one day. No more frustration regarding temporary crowns, no more extra visits to the dental office to reseat these temporaries, no more additional time taken away from work (or your life) to deal with these issues. And you’re numb through the seating of the crown. No more misery to seat a crown without anesthetic or going thru the anxiety of getting numb a second time. And there’s less opportunity and time for bacteria to get inside these prepped teeth, which we think minimizes the need for root canals. Overall, we think it’s healthier to do this procedure from start to finish in one day. The CEREC machine…my best friend in dentistry. Have questions about this? Come see me. Janette Carroll, DDS in Mt. Vernon, Washington. 360-424-0123.