When more than half of the tooth’s biting surface is damaged, we will often use an inlay or onlay to restore the tooth.
What Are Inlays & Onlays?
Inlays and onlays are made of either porcelain, gold, or composite resin that are bonded to the damaged area of the tooth. Similar to a filling, an inlay is used inside the cusp tips of the tooth. An onlay, a more substantial reconstruction, is similar to the inlay but extends out over one or more of the cusps of the tooth.
Gold has traditionally been the chosen material of choice for inlays and onlays. In recent years, however, porcelain has become increasingly popular because of its strength and color, which can closely match a tooth’s natural color.
Inlay and Onlay Application
Inlays and onlays are placed within two appointments. At the first visit, the tooth is prepared for the inlay or onlay and the damaged or decaying area of the tooth is removed. To ensure proper fit and bite, the dentist takes an impression of the tooth and it is sent to a lab for fabrication. Next, the dentist will apply a temporary sealant on the tooth.
At the second appointment, the temporary sealant is removed. Dr. Klasinski will make sure that the inlay or onlay fits correctly. If it fits properly, the inlay or onlay will be bonded to the tooth with a strong resin and then polished to a smooth finish.
Inlay and Onlay Considerations
Did you know that traditional fillings can reduce the strength of a natural tooth by up to 50 percent? Inlays and onlays, however, are bonded directly onto the tooth using special high-strength resins, and can actually increase the strength of a tooth by up to 75 percent. This also helps them last from 10 to 30 years. In cases where an entire crown is not necessary inlays and onlays are an optimal alternative.