Onlays are very similar to inlays but are used to repair a larger area of the tooth, namely from the cusps or rounded edges of the tooth right to the centre of the biting surface area.
These repairs can be made of gold or dental composite and porcelain, which are more aesthetically appealing as they blend with the natural tooth shade of the patient. Since each onlay is made from an imprint of a patient’s teeth, the artificial aid is a perfect fit and conserves more of the tooth, compared to having a dental crown placed. They also strengthen and protect a tooth that may have been weakened by decay, and prevent further decay from spreading.
The centre and cusps of the teeth are good targets for bacteria as food particles become trapped in these areas. Bacteria feeds on the trapped food and mixes with saliva to form plaque. If plaque is not removed through daily dental care, the bacteria in this mixture can form a harder substance called tartar, which cannot be removed through normal brushing. Acids from the bacteria then eat through the enamel of your teeth to create small holes called cavities. If left untreated, cavities can grow and cause further decay and the beginnings of gum disease. Large cavities can also leave your tooth structurally impaired.
An onlay can be fitted in two dentist visits. In one visit, our dentists will prepared the tooth and take an impression for the onlay to be made off of. A temporary filling is normally placed in the interim so no further damage or decay takes place. Once the onlay has been created in a dental laboratory, the second dentist visit will be to remove the temporary filling and place the permanent onlay.