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Quick Information


onlay dental treatment


What is an Onlay?
An onlay is a partial  filling Crown   that covers the biting surface of the tooth. It may also replace one or more sides of the tooth.


Why do I need an Onlay?

We often recommend an onlay as a treatment option instead of a crown.

There are several reasons why an onlay may be an option for a repairing a tooth:

  • If your tooth is heavily broken down, has been root filled or has large existing fillings in place then an onlay can be a good option to help restore the tooth to its natural shape. It can also reduce the chance of future breakdown of the tooth.
  • If your teeth are worn, broken or have old discoloured fillings, onlays can be used to improve the shape and appearance of your teeth.
  • An onlay can be less intrusive than a crown, as less of your tooth has to be cut back and your tooth is left stronger in the long term.


What is an onlay made of?

Onlays can be either made of tooth coloured ceramic material (such as e.max), tooth coloured composite resin (like a white filling) or of metal.

Your dentist will discuss with you which material choices are available and the advantages of each in your particular case.


What happens when I have an onlay?

All of our onlays are custom made for each individual case by a highly skilled dental technician to ensure an excellent fit and appearance.

Your dentist will discuss the treatment and options with you, checking that you understand the procedure and answering any questions you may have.

Usually we will need an up to date X-ray of your tooth/teeth to check that the roots are healthy and the foundations strong before commencing on the process of preparing your tooth for an onlay.


The treatment itself will typically take two appointments:


Appointment one:

Your dentist will carefully shape your tooth to allow space for the onlay (usually done under local anaesthetic).

We will take impressions of your teeth, choose a shade for your onlay to match your existing teeth and provide you with a temporary onlay to cover the prepared tooth.


Appointment two:

Your temporary onlay will be removed and replaced with your new onlay.

Your dentist will ensure a good fit and appearance of the new onlay, then cement or bond it into place using the appropriate material for your onlay to ensure it lasts well.

We will also give you advice on how best to care for your crown over the years to come.


How long will my onlay last?

Onlays typically last around 10-15 years.

There are a wide variety of factors that influence this, including:

  • the strength of the underlying tooth
  • the health of the nerve within the tooth
  • the position of the tooth within the mouth
  • how much stress and strain a particular onlay is put under
  • how well the onlay is looked after.


Are there any risks to having onlays?

We will always take steps to carefully plan your treatment to try and achieve the best possible long term outcome, however there can be complications outside our control even with the best possible planning and treatment:

  • Research shows that in approximately 5% of teeth that are prepared for onlays the nerve can die off at some stage in the future and the tooth require either root canal treatment or extraction.
  • The ceramic or composite resin on onlays can chip or crack over time and this may result in the need to have the onlay replaced.

If you are concerned about any of these risks or have questions about your treatment, your dentist will be happy to discuss these in more detail to ensure you are 100% comfortable about your treatment.


How much do onlays cost?

The cost of your onlay(s) will vary depending on the tooth, materials used and the expected time required to perform the treatment.

Your dentist will advise you of this at the time of booking and provide you with a written estimate.

  • Ceramic onlays (such as e.max) start from £616 per tooth.
  • Composite resin onlays start from £579 per tooth.
  • Gold onlays start from £639 per tooth.

The cost of onlays are included in the Complete Care Plans   however patients will be required to pay a contribution to cover technician costs involved in having their onlays made.

For full pricing details, download our latest  Price Guide


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