Onlay Restorations

An onlay is a custom fabricated restoration made of composite, gold, or tooth-colored ceramic.  An onlay is sometimes also referred to as a partial crown.  Composite or ceramic onlays can be made during a single appointment using CEREC 3D technology or made by a professional dental laboratory.

Onlays can be utilized to conservatively repair teeth that have large defective fillings or have been damaged by decay, cracks, fracture or trauma.  Onlays are highly durable and an ideal alternative to crowns (caps) because more tooth structure is preserved in their preparation.  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.

Reasons for onlay restorations:

  • Broken or fractured teeth
  • Decayed teeth.
  • Fractured or cracked fillings.
  • Large defective fillings.
  • Ideal replacement for large defective mercury metal (silver) fillings.

What does getting an onlay involve?

While the tooth is numb, all old filling materials and decay is removed from the tooth.  The space will then be thoroughly cleaned and carefully prepared, shaping the surface to properly fit an onlay restoration.

 When using CEREC 3D technology, an onlay procedure will require only one appointment. After tooth preparation, the tooth and surrounding structures will be scanned with a video camera wand.  The onlay will be custom designed in 3D on a computer, milled and bonded into the tooth during the same appointment. 

When using a dental laboratory, 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.  A temporary filling will be applied to protect the tooth while your onlay is made by a dental laboratory technician.

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 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 aid in the life of your new onlay.

Contact Us

We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office at (507) 625-2273 or use the quick contact form below.


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