An inlay or onlay restoration is a custom made filling made of composite material, gold, or tooth-colored porcelain. Porcelain inlays and onlays are popular because they resemble your natural tooth. A porcelain inlay or onlay is made by a professional dental laboratory and is permanently cemented into the tooth by your dentist.
Inlays and onlays can be utilized to conservatively repair teeth that have large defective fillings or have been damaged by decay or trauma.
As with most dental restorations, inlays and onlays are not always permanent and may someday require replacement. They are highly durable and will last many years, giving you a beautiful long lasting smile.
Reasons for Getting Inlays or Onlays
- Broken or fractured teeth.
- Cosmetic enhancement.
- Decayed teeth.
- Fractured fillings.
- Large fillings.
The Difference Between Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and onlays offer an ideal alternative to crowns (caps) because less tooth structure is removed in the preparation of onlays.
Inlays and onlays are similar, but they have some differences:
- Inlays are an ideal alternative to conventional silver and composite fillings as they fill and strengthen the areas between the cusps of a tooth.
- Onlays are essentially identical to inlays with the exception that one or more of the chewing cusps have also been affected and need to be included in the restoration. For this reason, an onlay is sometimes also referred to as a partial crown.
What Does Getting an Inlay or Onlay Involve?
An inlay or onlay procedure usually requires two appointments. Your first appointment will include taking several highly accurate impressions (molds) that will be used to create your custom inlay or onlay and a temporary restoration.
While the tooth is numb, the dentist will remove any decay and/or old filling materials. The space will then be thoroughly cleaned and carefully prepared, shaping the surface to properly fit an inlay restoration. A temporary filling will be applied to protect the tooth while your inlay or onlay is made by a dental laboratory.
At your second appointment your new inlay or onlay will be carefully and precisely cemented into place. A few adjustments may be necessary to ensure a proper fit and that your bite is comfortable.
You will receive care instructions at the conclusion of your treatment. Good oral hygiene practices, a proper diet, and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new inlay or onlay.