An onlay restoration is a custom-made filling of composite material, gold, or tooth-colored porcelain. Porcelain onlays are popular because they resemble your natural tooth. Sometimes referred to as a partial crown, a porcelain onlay is made by a professional dental laboratory and permanently cemented onto the tooth by your dentist.
Onlays can be utilized to conservatively repair teeth that have large defective fillings or have been damaged by decay or trauma. Onlays are an ideal alternative to crowns (caps) because less tooth structure is removed in the preparation. Onlays are essentially identical to inlays with the exception that one or more of the chewing cusps have also been affected and are therefore included in the restoration.
As with most dental restorations, onlays are not always permanent and may someday require replacement. Nevertheless, they are highly durable and will give you a long-lasting, beautiful smile.
Reasons for onlay restorations
What an onlay involves
An inlay procedure usually requires two appointments. Your first appointment will include taking several highly accurate impressions (molds) that will be used to create your custom onlay and a temporary restoration.
While the tooth is numb, the dentist will remove any decay and/or old filling materials. The space will then be thoroughly cleaned and carefully prepared, shaping the surface to properly fit an onlay restoration. A temporary filling will be applied to protect the tooth while a dental laboratory makes your onlay.
At your second appointment your new onlay will be precisely cemented into place. A few adjustments may be necessary to ensure a proper fit and comfortable bite.
You will receive instructions on how to care for your teeth at the conclusion of your treatment. Good oral hygiene practices, a proper diet, and regular dental visits will extend the longevity of your new onlay.