What Dentists Recommend: Onlays or Dental Crowns?

What Dentists Recommend: Onlays or Dental Crowns?

April 1, 2023

What Are Onlays?

They are special types of dental fillings that restore damaged teeth. Onlays are alternatives to other dental filling solutions like amalgams or composite fillings. They feature porcelain material and are typically designed as a single solid piece that can fit perfectly into and over a tooth.

Still, onlays are similar to dental crowns, which may explain why they are sometimes called partial crowns. They are ideal for restoring your teeth when they are too damaged to suffice a typical dental filling but not damaged enough for a tooth crown.

When Do Dentists Employ Onlays?

A dentist will incorporate an onlays in Redding, CA, to repair damaged teeth, usually in cases of tooth cavities that have affected the cusps of teeth. However, you can also get onlays for broken teeth.

What Are Dental Crowns?

They are oral appliances that restore teeth by substituting enamel. In many cases, dentists will refer to dental crowns in Redding as dental caps because they encapsulated a tooth completely. Consider it more like an artificial tooth that only replaces the exterior portion of your tooth.

When Do Dentists Employ Dental Crowns?

Dental crowns are restorative materials that come into play to strengthen weak and damaged teeth. Usually, dental crowns can restore your teeth in the following situations:

  1. Weak and worn-down teeth
  2. Cracked or broken teeth – where other alternatives like dental fillings or Veneers are not the preferred choice.
  3. Crowning a dental implant
  4. Creating a dental bridge – a traditional dental bridge features two dental crowns and an artificial replacement tooth.
  5. Covering a tooth after root canal treatment
  6. Covering a sizeable tooth filling that may weaken a tooth

​How Are Onlays Different from Dental Crowns?

Although onlays and dental crowns are quite similar, they are not the same. For one, dental crowns completely encapsulate a tooth. It means the dentist must remove a substantial amount of your tooth enamel to create room for the dental crown. At the end of your dental crown procedure, you will not be able to see the enamel of your natural tooth. Instead, it will only be the dental crown. Therefore, a dentist near you can use dental crowns to restore your front and back teeth.

On the other hand, an onlay is a partial restoration for a damaged tooth. The dentist will create a porcelain onlay that can restore the entire chewing surface of a tooth. Therefore, once your treatment with onlays is complete, you will notice the porcelain restoration covering the cusps of your natural teeth. For this reason, onlays are only effective for restoring the back teeth, that is, molars and premolars.

​Do Onlays Last Longer Than Crowns?

Onlays and dental crowns are strong competitors regarding durability. With good oral care, both can last between 10 and 20 years. However, dental crowns are slightly sturdier than onlays, which may translate to lasting longer.

​Can You Get a Crown After an Onlay?

If you ask a dentist near you, it defeats logic to get a dental crown over an onlay. Usually, dental crowns can be placed over other types of dental fillings to hold the tooth in place. In the case of onlays, a dentist would rather remove the onlay before placing the dental crown. A good explanation is that they both feature porcelain materials created into single solid pieces.

Which of The Two Is Better?

​It depends on the situation at hand. At Riverbend Family Dental, there are times we consider onlays better than dental crowns, and other times the reverse.

Ideally, onlays are better than dental crowns because they are the more conservative solution. They allow preservation for more tooth enamel than is the case either dental crowns.

On the other hand, dental crowns can be the better option since they offer full coverage and strengthen teeth. Therefore, you enjoy more functionality with dental crowns than not. Besides, dental crowns can restore all your teeth, not just the back ones.


Ultimately, choosing between onlays and dental crowns is unique for every patient. The needs and preferences impact the decision. Therefore, liaise with your dentist to ensure you find the right treatment protocol for your specific needs.