Porcelain Onlays

Onlays, or partial crowns, are so called because a full crown is not needed to restore the damage or decay that has affected the tooth. This service is for cases in which a tooth has decay, but the decay has not destroyed all of the healthy enamel of the tooth.

Reasons for onlay restorations include:

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

The onlay acts as the missing part of the tooth and is fitted and placed to complete the naturally-grown tooth. Porcelain onlays are popular because the material resembles the natural tooth. A porcelain onlay is made by a professional dental laboratory and is permanently cemented into the tooth by a dentist. Onlays are an ideal alternative to conventional silver and composite fillings. Also, they are more conservative than crowns because less tooth structure is removed in the preparation of onlays.

As with most dental restorations, onlays are not always permanent and may someday require replacement.  They are highly durable and will last many years, giving you a beautiful, resilient smile.


The procedure is very similar to the crown procedure. As in the procedure for the crown, 2-3 visits may be needed to ensure optimal fitting and functionality of the restoration.

Once an onlay has been decided upon as the best solution for you, the procedure will begin with a thorough cleaning and a removal of all decay. Once your tooth is clean, an impression will be made. The impression will be sent to a dental laboratory where an individually crafted partial crown will be customized to fit your particular tooth. During this time, you will be provided a temporary partial crown to secure optimal comfort between visits.

After the partial crown is ready, it will be placed to provide a final restoration. After the fitting is made and completed in the most comfortable and natural-feeling way, your onlay will be cemented and finalized.

On occasion a third visit may be necessary to ensure the fitting and cement. Once the onlay is finalized, it will provide you with the feel and appearance of one of your natural teeth. You will have full functionality restored. If proper hygiene is practiced and if regularly scheduled dental visits are attended, the onlay will have a long lifetime. If neglected, you may need to return to our practice to repair damage made to your restoration.