Onlays are effective restorative treatments that can be used to repair severely weakened or damaged back teeth. In most cases they’re used when a filling isn’t suitable or needs replacing. Sometimes onlays can provide a less-invasive alternative to a crown – providing there’s enough of your tooth left intact.
Onlays may partly or fully cover a tooth when the tooth is broken, worn down due to teeth grinding or after a cusp fracture. Inlays and onlays are used to restore the outer tooth surface and structure and are custom-made according to the patient's oral dimensions and choice of material.Dental composite and amalgam are not usually used for onlays, as stronger porcelain and gold alternatives are preferred. Onlays may be used instead of other more invasive treatment, such as dental crowns.
Onlay treatment involves a process of care to establish how best to treat the patient, according to their dental health and cosmetic needs. The treatment process involves:
A dentist evaluates a patient's oral health and uses diagnostic tests such as X-rays and imaging to identify the type of dental trauma and appropriate treatment. If treatment with onlays is necessary, the dentist will discuss the diagnosis and reasoning for the treatment with the patient. All risks, benefits and costs are transparently explained.
Dental moulds and impressions are made to obtain patient-specific measurements, to ensure accuracy in the design and fitting of the onlay filling. The teeth are first cleaned and the traumatised tooth prepared to ensure no infection is present. In some cases of fracture, or where the tooth is severely broken, part of the tooth may be removed before it is filled or capped with an onlay.
NHS does not provide this for aesthetic reasons.