Dental Onlays: The Pros and Cons

If you have a cavity or damaged tooth, your dentist might have recommended dental onlays. You want to learn more about this dental restoration option before getting work done. Learn the pros and cons of onlays to determine if this is the right option for your tooth.

Pros of dental onlays

People who are considering onlays should begin by looking at the benefits offered. Dentists recommend onlays to numerous patients due to these benefits.


Dental outlays are commonly made of resin and porcelain. This material is extremely durable, allowing the outlays to maintain the proper size and shape. Onlays tend to last much longer than fillings and crowns.

Preserve the tooth’s structure

Dentists preserve as much of the tooth’s structure as possible when creating and placing onlays. Dentists remove the damaged portion and then reshape the tooth. The onlay is attached to the tooth and compliments the bite while providing support.

Reduce the risk of future decay

Some people have teeth that are vulnerable to decay. Weak and vulnerable teeth can be protected by onlays. This reduces the chance that additional dental work will be needed in the future.

Tight and secure fit

Dentists create molds of the tooth before constructing onlays. Onlays are designed to provide a tight and secure fit, making it easy for people to talk and eat. The tight fit also makes it difficult for bacteria to seep into the restoration.

This is a contrast to dental fillings. Temperature changes affect dental fillings. These fillings might contract or expand based on the temperature in the mouth. The loose fit can turn into a breeding ground for bacteria if proper care is not taken.

Natural look

When people get a cavity or have another issue, it is normal to have concerns about the look of the dental restoration. People want a restoration that looks as natural as possible, and many are pleased with onlays. Onlays are customized to match the teeth, and they have stain-resistant properties.

Cons of dental onlays

Patients should also consider the cons before choosing dental onlays. While there are more pros than cons, the drawbacks should not be ignored.

Two appointments instead of one

A dental filling can be completed in a single appointment, but onlays require two appointments. During the first appointment, the dentist prepares the area and takes impressions. A temporary restoration is fitted during this appointment. At the second appointment, the dentist removes the temporary restoration and places the onlay. The dentist polishes it and sends the patient home.


Onlays are typically more expensive than traditional fillings since the restoration must be customized in a lab. However, since the restoration lasts longer than a traditional filling, patients can actually save money over the long term. Also, onlays typically cost less than a crown. Patients who do not require crowns appreciate the lower price of onlays.

Are onlays the right choice?

While there are pros and cons to getting dental onlays, there are more benefits to this procedure. Onlays preserve the natural tooth structure, do not expand, have a tight fit and provide a natural look. While it does take two appointments to fit onlays and they are more expensive than traditional fillings, the benefits still make onlays an attractive restoration option.

Request an appointment here or call Calabasas Dental Care at (818) 591-2480 for an appointment in our Calabasas office.