Are you getting ready to get a dental onlay? Make sure you keep reading below to learn what to expect before, during, and after the procedure.

What to Expect Before, During, and After You Get a Dental Onlay

Maintaining your oral health is important in order to avoid long-term and expensive dental problems. About 34 million school hours are lost per year due to emergency dental care. Untreated dental disease leads to a loss of over $45 billion in U.S. productivity. 

If you need to get a dental onlay, don’t put it off! While it might seem overwhelming trying to navigate through the different dental procedures, there’s hope.

This article will take a look at what a dental onlay is, and what you can expect. Read on to explore all about this procedure to find out if it’s right for you. 

What Is a Dental Onlay? 

An onlay performed at a specialty such as cosmetic memorial dentistry, will prevent decay and extend to one or more cusps. First, you’ll have an impression of the decayed tooth and receive a temporary onlay. 

Your dental onlay specialist will create one that meets your tooth’s dimensions. When you head back to the dentist, they’ll remove the temporary onlay and place the permanent option. It’ll be bonded securely using a high-strength dental resin. 

Since they can be made from tooth-colored material, they’re almost always undetectable to the naked eye. They also conserve more of your tooth’s structure. They’ll help you to avoid needing dental implants, crowns, or bridges. 

Dental Inlays and Onlays

While they’re both safe alternatives to dental crowns and can last for decades, they differ in their treatment. This is due to them covering different parts of your teeth. 

A dental onlay can replace the full chewing surface of your tooth. You don’t need to remove an entire chewing surface for it to cover one or a few cusps of your teeth. 

A dental inlay is similar to a filling. It covers the surface of your tooth in between the cusps. For broken or decayed teeth, it can be fitted to your tooth’s damaged area. 

Dental Inlay Procedures

First, your specialist will numb a part of your mouth. Once it’s numb, they’ll remove a damaged or decayed part of your tooth. 

Next, they’ll take an impression of your tooth before they send it out to a lab. The lab will create a permanent restoration. You’ll receive a temporary onlay until the next appointment. 

When you head in next, they’ll remove your temporary onlay. You’ll receive the brand new dental onlay and they’ll make sure it fits well. Once all is well, they’ll bond your teeth with the onlay. 

Why You Might Receive Dental Inlays and Onlays

If you have tooth decay, or a chipped or cracked tooth, then you might need a dental onlay. Tooth decay is when bacteria produces an acid that can damage your teeth. While mild decay can be fixed with a dental filling, moderate to severe decay might require a dental onlay or inlay. 

Dental Inlay Risks

Dental onlay failure or complications aren’t common. As with any procedure, there are risks. 

You might notice an injury to the gums or mouth, an allergic reaction, decay in the tooth, or anesthetic complications. If there’s shrinkage or expansion of a composite, it can damage the tooth. 

In order to reduce your risk of problems you’ll want to: 

  • Let your dentist know if you’re pregnant or nursing
  • Follow all lifestyle, dietary, and activity recommendations before the procedure
  • Take your medications as prescribed
  • Let your dentist know about any allergies
  • Let your dentist know about any problems after the procedure

What To Expect After the Procedure

You might notice that your tongue, mouth, or gums feel numb after the procedure. The local anesthetic takes time for it to wear off. 

Gum tenderness is common as well. Tooth sensitivity to hot and cold is normal.

It can last for only a few days or a few weeks. If the symptoms last longer than a couple of weeks or seem to get worse, let your dentist know. 


After the procedure, you’ll want to avoid sticky, hot, and cold drinks. At least until you don’t experience sensitivity or numbness. 

Once the soreness or numbness disappears then you can take care of it as your other teeth. It’s best to avoid anything too sticky or hard since it can cause cracks or damage. 

Make sure that you floss once a day and brush your teeth twice a day. Head to your dentist for regular exams and cleanings. 

How Dental Onlays Differ From Crowns

Since onlays are sometimes called partial crowns it confuses some. They differ drastically since dentists have to remove a large amount of the tooth’s structure for a crown. The crown is then placed around the tooth. 

When you receive an onlay, your dentist is able to save more of your tooth’s structure. It can cover one or more of the cusps on your tooth, or cover an entire biting surface. It’s less invasive than crowns. 

Dental Onlay Benefits

Dental onlays are made from durable material and look like natural teeth. They also fit more securely than a filling does. Since they strengthen your teeth, you’re less likely to need work done on that tooth in the future. 

What To Expect After Receiving a Dental Onlay

After exploring this guide, you should have a better idea of what to expect before, during, and after a dental onlay. Take your time with the healing process and follow the guidelines of your dentist.

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