Dental onlays are custom restorations that lay on a tooth. Similar to a crown, dental onlays cover up a broken tooth when plenty of strong tooth remains. Onlays are made of gold or ceramics. Gold is typically softer and more gentle on the teeth that touch it. Gold onlays are very long lasting and the gold can be “worked” to reseal a tooth over time. Ceramic onlays can be bonded to teeth so that a broken tooth or filling becomes nearly as strong as nature intended. They also, more accurately, match the color of the tooth.
We choose onlay cases very carefully as the preparation, temporization, and final placement can present unique challenges differing from traditional fillings and crowns. Sometimes a white filling or inlay is more appropriate. In other cases, a crown is needed.
The center tooth shows an example of a dental onlay. (The tooth on the left has a filling and the tooth on the right has a dental crown.)
Think you might need a crown? Learn more to see if you are a good candidate for a crown.