Questions About Onlays

olDental onlays are not as common as some other dental treatments because not all dental offices offer them. It is the same with inlays. However, they can be a valuable treatment under many circumstances.  Larger than an inlay, but more conservative than a crown, they are often referred to as a three-quarter crown or partial crown.  Whereas a dental crown covers the whole tooth, an onlay does not. Sometimes a crown will be placed when an onlay would have been sufficient. That’s why today we answer questions about onlays.

Q’s and A’s

Question: What is an onlay?

Answer: A dental onlay is similar to a dental filling only it is an indirect composite that also covers one or more cusps (the pointed part of molars).

Question: What are they used for?

Answer: Dental onlays can be used to treat large areas of decay, fractured fillings, and damaged, broken, or cracked teeth.

Question: Are onlays made with silver amalgam?

Answer: Generally onlays are either fabricated from gold, resin composite, or porcelain.

Question: What is an indirect filling?

Answer: An indirect filling is one that is fabricated at a dental lab rather than placed directly in the tooth chair-side as amalgam fillings are.

Question: How are onlays placed?

Answer: This type of restoration requires two appointments. During the first appointment the tooth is prepared by removing the damage or decay and cleaning and disinfecting the tooth. Next, impressions are taken and sent to the dental lab. During the second appointment, the custom-fabricated restoration is permanently cemented into place.

Question: How long do onlays last?

Answer: An onlay can last 5 to 10 years or more.


With over 25 years of professional experience, Dr. Steven M. Huffstutler and his caring team proudly provide exceptional preventive, cosmetic, and restorative dental treatment to patients and their families across Dallas/Ft. Worth, including North Richland Hills, Denton, the Mid-cities, Southlake, and all surrounding communities. We also have extensive experience helping patients find relief from painful TMJ disorders (various forms of jaw dysfunction). To schedule an appointment with Dr. Huffstutler, contact our office today by calling 817-918-3038.