Inlays and onlays also known as indirect fillings, offer a well-fitting, stronger, longer lasting reparative solution to tooth decay or similar damage. These restorations are beneficial from both an esthetic and functional point of view.
To repair damage to the tooth’s biting surface, rather than using a simple filling, or a crown, a dentist will often use an inlay or an onlay.
Inlays and onlays can be made from porcelain, gold, or composite or ceramic resin, although porcelain is now becoming the material of choice because of its strength and potential to match the natural color of your tooth.
Inlays and onlays are variations on the technique of dental crowns. The difference between these crowns and the crowns discussed previously is their coverage of the underlying tooth. The “traditional” crown covers the entire tooth; inlays and onlays cover the underlying tooth to a lesser extent.
Superior Fit: Inlays and onlays offer a conservative preparation that preserves as much healthy tooth as possible. They are a great choice if you have minimal to moderate tooth decay that extends into a flossing area, offering an excellent alternative to full coverage crowns.
Tooth Color: Boasting esthetic longevity, inlays and onlays are not likely to discolor over time as tooth-colored resin fillings often do.
Tooth Structure Safeguard: Inlays and onlays preserve the maximum amount of healthy tooth structure while restoring decayed or damaged areas.
Tight Space Fulfillments: If you have a cavity between your teeth, consider an inlay rather than a direct composite filling. Inlays are better at sealing teeth to keep out bacteria; they are easy to clean, will not stain and offer exceptional longevity.
Strength and Stability: Inlays and onlays are extremely stable restorative solutions for the treatment of decay. The superior fit and durable materials make inlays and onlays a stable choice that can actually strengthen a damaged tooth.
Typically, an inlay or onlay procedure is completed in two dental visits.
During your first visit, I will prepare the damaged tooth and make an impression of the tooth that will be sent to a dental laboratory, where an inlay or onlay is fabricated.
A fitted, provisional inlay or onlay (sometimes known as a temporary or “temp” for short) in the shape of the final restoration can be created during this visit to protect the tooth while the final restoration is being fabricated.
We will discuss with you the best type of inlay or onlay material to use.
If esthetics is not a concern (for example, with back molars), gold is the best option.
Porcelain inlays and onlays offer the best esthetics and are often used in the “smile line” areas.
During your second visit, the provisional temporary is removed and your inlay or onlay is placed.
Inlays and onlays are extremely stable restorations that seldom fail. I will check all margins to ensure a smooth fit with tight adjacent contact and I will also check your bite to ensure that there are no occlusion-related problems affecting the margins of the restoration. Once fitted, the inlay or onlay is bonded onto the tooth and the margins are polished.