What are Inlays and Onlays?
Inlays and onlays are custom made fillings created in a laboratory and bonded to the surface of the tooth. Both can help to maintain healthy tooth structure, increase the chewing force the tooth can withstand and enhance the long-term health of teeth.
Inlays are used to repair teeth and restore tooth structure within the cusp tips or interior of the tooth. Inlays are often used on teeth with large defective fillings or damage from decay or trauma. Because inlays require less removal of the tooth's structure, they are considered a more conservative restoration than a crown. Inlays are a popular alternative to conventional silver and composite fillings and can be made from composite material, gold, or tooth-colored porcelain.
Onlays are used when the damage to the tooth is more extensive than can be restored with inlays. Onlays cover the entire chewing surface of the tooth including one or more tooth cusps. Sometimes referred to as a "partial crown," onlays are often a better alternative to crowns as the procedure requires less tooth structure to be removed during the restoration.
When would Inlays or Onlays be recommended?
Your dentist may recommend inlays or onlays for several reasons:
- Cracked or Fractured Teeth
- Cracked or Fractured Fillings
- Large Fillings
- Decayed Teeth
- Cosmetic Enhancement
What is the procedure for getting Inlays or Onlays?
Inlay or onlay placement usually requires two visits. During your first visit, your dentist will numb the area with anesthesia. Decay and old filling materials are then removed and the tooth is thoroughly cleaned. Once the cleaning is completed, the tooth is reshaped to properly fit the restoration. Your dentist will then take an impression of your tooth and place a temporary inlay or onlay over the tooth. Your impression will then be sent to the dental lab, where an inlay or onlay is created to match your tooth's unique specifications.
During your second visit, the temporary inlay or onlay is removed and the permanent one is placed over your tooth. Your dentist will make any adjustments needed to ensure a comfortable fit and good functionality.