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Onlays and Crowns

The strength of a tooth is determined by it’s rigidity. The enamel of the tooth is what provides this rigidity. When the structure of the tooth is compromised by cavity or trauma, the tooth becomes weaker and prone to further breakdown. Therefore when we restore a tooth, we aim to conserve as much natural tooth structure as possible.

Ideally, we would like to restore the tooth with a material that has the same physical properties as what it is replacing. This is not possible with currently available filling materials so the the size of the restoration has a large impact on the strength of the tooth. With large fillings, the tooth is weaker and prone to fracture. In these cases, an onlay or a crown is recommended to reduce the chance of further fracture.


Onlays are the most conservative option available. They require less tooth preparation and save more strong, natural tooth structure. They are highly aesthetic and long lasting. They are fabricated in a dental laboratory and are much stronger than white fillings placed in a dental office.

Large tooth coloured filling which is worn, chipping, and cracking because it is not strong or rigid enough to withstand everyday forces.

An onlay was placed to restore the natural beauty of the tooth. The material used is much stronger than the tooth coloured filling on the left.

The large filling covers 3/4 of the outside wall of the tooth (top photo) leaving only 1/4 tooth structure at the gum line.


Crowns on the other hand require more tooth preparation and are preferred when there is little natural tooth structure remaining.

The crown wraps around the tooth to the gum line. Newer materials match natural tooth colour much better than the old crown (to the left in the photo).

If you require either an onlay or a crown, we will discuss your options in detail.