At first glance, a tooth seems to be a relatively simple thing. However, a closer look at a tooth will reveal that it is actually a system, with several parts that need to work together for the tooth to function. One of the parts with which you are probably familiar is the cusp of the tooth. To put it simply, the cusp is the part of the tooth which sticks up above the molar, and is the surface which you use to chew or to bite.
The cusp of the tooth can become damaged because of decay. When that happens, your dentist might suggest using an onlay to fix the problem. An onlay is used to repair damage that is not severe enough to require a crown; and the remaining tooth structure is still intact. After the decayed material is removed, a custom onlay will be crafted from an impression of your tooth and will be used to cover only the biting surface that has suffered from decay. By contrast, a crown is used to cover or protect the entire tooth. The process usually takes two visits, one to remove the filling and make the impression, and another to apply the onlay.
Traditionally, onlays have been made of gold, or an alloy of gold and other metals. In recent years, a composite resin material has been used instead of metal.
If you have a cavity, or are experiencing pain or sensitivity in your tooth, you should make an appointment to see our dentist, Dr. Purvesh Malaviya in Brockton, Massachusetts. You can make an appointment for an exam and a consultation by calling 508-588-1400.