Inlays and onlays are indirect restorations. They are a great alternative to traditional metal fillings primarily because less of the tooth structure needs to be removed. Inlays and onlays are suitable for treating mild to moderate decay, and can be used to restore a cracked or fractured tooth if the damage is not extensive enough to require a crown.
Generally, inlays are small restorations that fit within the contours of the biting surface of a tooth, while onlays cover a portion or the entire chewing surface.
Inlays and onlays can be made from porcelain, gold or composite resin. Once fabricated, they are securely bonded to the tooth.
The advantages of inlays and onlays include:
- Since they can be fabricated from tooth-colored materials, inlays and onlays are aesthetically pleasing. Unlike traditional metal fillings, the restoration is virtually invisible.
- Less removal of the tooth structure is required to achieve optimal results.
- They do not cause excessive wear and tear to opposing tooth structures.
- Inlays and onlays prevent the need for more significant treatment in the future.
The process for placing inlays and onlays generally requires two or more office visits. Initially, once the decay is removed, your dentist will take an impression of the tooth. A temporary restoration is placed until the custom-made inlay/onlay is manufactured in a laboratory.
Following a proper oral hygiene regimen daily ensures the success and longevity of your new restoration.