An onlay is a solid restoration which can be used to fill a cavity. It is a suitable alternative when it is no longer possible to fit a standard filling because of significant decay or damage in the tooth. Where possible, it is often used in the place of a crown- which can be more expensive and more invasive to fit.

Onlays are most commonly used on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth where they help to restore strength and function.

Once fitted a porcelain onlay will blend in beautifully as if it was always there. It will be placed directly onto the surface of the tooth- fitting within the confines of your other teeth so that it feels comfortable and natural.

Although more expensive, onlays are more hard-wearing than standard fillings. They can withstand larger forces and because they are very precise in their manufacture they fit the tooth perfectly making them easier to clean and helping to protect the tooth and gums from decay.

Amalgam and composite fillings can have a tendency to shrink after they have hardened- resulting in fine cracks and gaps. Due to this, they can significantly weaken a tooth. onlays can actually help to increase the strength of a tooth by up to 75%, making them a successful, cost-effective and long-term solution. Often an onlay doesn’t just help to prolong the life of a decayed tooth- it can prevent the need for further treatment in the future.

Gold onlays have been used for many years and have proved very reliable and hard-wearing. Newer types of porcelain onlays now offer patients the option of a more natural finish whilst retaining the strength and durability of gold.

When properly maintained and looked after correctly a porcelain onlay can last for over 20 years.

How is an onlay produced?

It will take at least two appointments to fit your porcelain onlay.

Firstly, any decay or old fillings in the tooth will need to be removed and the cavity will be cleaned and prepared. Impressions will be taken and used to produce your onlay which should be ready within 2 weeks. A temporary restoration will be placed during this time.

At your next appointment we will ensure that the size and fit of the onlay is correct and that it feels comfortable when you bite.

Only when you are completely happy it will be bonded to your tooth with a dental adhesive.

Looking after your onlay.

When your onlay is first fitted it may feel slightly strange until you get used to it.

Be careful when biting on the tooth- particularly in the first few days. Consider sticking with a softer diet for 24 hours or eat harder foods on the opposite side of your mouth.

An oinlay should be looked after in the same way as any of your other teeth to prevent the development of decay. If you experience any problems or pain contact us straight away.

Remember to attend appointments with your dentist who can check the onlay for damage on a regular basis.