A dental onlay is a bespoke filling designed from composite material, tooth-colored porcelain or gold. Often called a partial crown, an onlay is prepared in a professional dental laboratory and is fused permanently into place by the dentist.
Onlays are typically used to restore teeth with significantly damaged fillings or that have been compromised by cavities or injuries. Onlays are a suitable substitute for crowns because they save a more substantial portion of the tooth during preparation. Onlays are similar to inlays, except that in this case, the teeth cusps have been damaged and thus need repair.
The common uses of onlays include:
- Cosmetic enhancement
- Broken or damaged teeth
- Large fillings
- Decayed teeth
- Damaged fillings
How long do onlays last?
Onlays usually last between 10 to 15 years. Similar to many other dental restorations, onlays do not last a lifetime and may eventually need to be replaced. However, they are very durable and long-lasting, providing you with a beautiful smile. The lifetime of dental onlays is determined by various factors, including:
- The position of the affected tooth in the mouth
- The power of the supporting tooth
- The condition of the nerves inside the tooth
- The level of the patient’s oral hygiene
- The level of stress and tension the onlay is subjected to
When is an onlay recommended?
Dentists often suggest an onlay as an alternative to dental crowns. The reason for using onlays can be traced to any of the following factors:
If the tooth has degraded extensively, has had a root filling or has a substantial filling in it, then an onlay is an excellent choice to repair the tooth and restore its natural luster. It is also helpful for preventing the potential event of tooth breakdown.
If the teeth have deteriorated or have an old stained filling, the dentist may use onlays to enhance the shape and look of the teeth.
Onlays are generally less invasive than dental crowns, since only a small part of the tooth will be cut for the procedure, keeping the teeth stronger in the long run.
What does getting an onlay involve?
The process of getting an onlay is separated into two dental appointments. The first appointment entails making multiple precise molds or impressions of the teeth, which will be used to build the custom onlay and a temporary restoration.
The dentist will administer anesthesia to numb the teeth before proceeding to clean out decay or filed filling material. The hole will be cleaned thoroughly and the surface primed to ensure a proper fit of the onlay. The dentist will place a temporary filling in the tooth to shield it during the process of manufacturing the onlay in a dental lab.
When you visit for your second appointment, the onlay will be meticulously and correctly bonded into position. The dentist may need to make some modifications to ensure an accurate fit and a comfortable bite.
After getting onlays, the dentist will guide you on the aftercare of the treatment. To ensure the dental onlays last for a long time, you need to maintain excellent oral hygiene routines, eat the right diet and visit the dentist’s office regularly for checkups.