top of page

Let's Explore Dental Onlays

When you need a filling, there are usually plenty of options open to you. However, if you want a natural-looking, strong option that can also be used to improve the appearance of your smile, you should ask your dentist about onlays.

What are onlays?

Sometimes known as “indirect fillings” onlays can be used to treat decayed or badly damaged teeth where traditional filling materials may not be a viable choice. Unlike composite or amalgam, onlays are solid pieces of material that are attached to your tooth. You can choose to follow a natural-looking approach and opt for porcelain, or ceramic inlays and onlays. Or, you can have them in precious metals such as gold – it all depends what you want your smile to look like, but your dentist will also advise which materials might be best for your situation! In some cases, onlay may be made out of composite – the same tooth-coloured material that you would have for a standard filling.

The difference between crowns and onlays is the amount of the tooth they cover. Crowns cover the entire tooth surface above the gum, while an onlay will only cover the top third or so of your tooth.

What are the advantages?

Onlays are a versatile option that come with many benefits. They both provide additional strength compared to very large fillings for the affected tooth following treatment, meaning that they will likely be able to restore biting and chewing forces once again.

They’re also usually a longer-lasting option than traditional fillings, especially when properly maintained. Another great benefit is that onlays can help to boost your smile aesthetics. If you opt for a porcelain or ceramic material, this will be specifically created to blend in with your natural tooth colour.

Plus, compared to crowns, placement of onlays require less of your natural tooth to be removed, making them a perfect choice for people keen to retain as much of their original tooth structure as possible.

How long do onlays take?

Dental onlays usually require two appointments to place. The first appointment will involve your dentist assessing your mouth and taking a dental impression or digital scan. This will then be sent to a dental laboratory who will create your dental onlay to perfectly fit onto your tooth. This will then be placed in your second appointment, with the onlay secured into place using a dental resin or cement.

If you opt for a composite onlay, this can sometimes be created in your dental practice by your dentist and may only take a single appointment. However, it’s worth remembering that composite onlays won’t necessarily offer the same strength benefits as those made from porcelain and precious metals.

Ask your dentist to find out more!

Dental onlays are just one of the many restorative dental options you can choose to protect and improve your smile. Kathryn is a member of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (BACD) which means that she is fully trained to deliver only the highest standard of treatment. So, if you want to explore the options available to you, please contact the Ridge Dental Team today.

For further enquiries about the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, visit


bottom of page