An onlay restoration, sometimes also referred to as a partial crown, is a filling made of composite material, gold, or tooth-colored porcelain. It is custom 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 that have been damaged by decay or trauma. An ideal alternative to crowns (caps) because less tooth structure is removed in their preparation, onlays are essentially identical to inlays except that one or more of the chewing cusps have also been affected and need to be included in the restoration.
Although highly durable and made to last many years, onlays--as with most dental restorations--are not always permanent and may someday require replacement.
Reasons for onlay restorations
What getting an onlay involves
An onlay 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 your onlay is being made by a dental laboratory.
At your second appointment, your new onlay will be carefully and precisely cemented into place. A few adjustments may be necessary to ensure a proper fit and comfortable bite.
You will receive homecare instructions 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.