An onlay restoration is a custom made restoration made usually from tooth-colored porcelain.  An onlay is sometimes also referred to as a partial crown. Onlays are essentially identical to inlays with the exception that one or more of the chewing cusps have also been affected and need to be included in the restoration. It is made by a professional dental laboratory or an in-office milling machine and is 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 of onlays.  They are highly durable and will last many years, giving you a beautiful long lasting smile.

Reasons for onlay restorations:

  • Broken or fractured teeth.
  • Cosmetic enhancement.
  • Decayed teeth.
  • Fractured fillings.
  • Large fillings.

What does getting an onlay involve?

An onlay procedure usually requires one appointment in our office.  We utilize the CEREC system, a state-of-the-art 1-visit porcelain CAD/CAM process to restore your tooth to its original form and function. Click here to read more about this procedure.

Your appointment will include making sure you are comfortable by getting your tooth numb, then the dentist will remove any decay and/or old filling material.  The space will then be thoroughly cleaned and carefully prepared, shaping the surface to properly fit an onlay restoration.  The dentist will then take a highly accurate digital scan that will be used to create your custom onlay.  After designing your custom onlay digitally, a milling machine will fabricate your onlay restoration in minutes. Then your new onlay will be carefully and precisely cemented into place.  A few adjustments may be necessary to ensure a proper fit and that your bite is comfortable.

You will receive care instruction at the conclusion of your treatment.  Good oral hygiene practices, a proper diet, and regular dental visits will greatly aid in prolonging the life of your new onlay.


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