Inlays & Onlays
When more than half of a tooth’s biting surface is damaged, we often use an inlay or onlay to restore the tooth’s anatomy.
What are dental inlays and onlays?
Inlays and onlays are made of porcelain, gold, or composite resin and are bonded to the damaged area of the tooth. An inlay, which is similar to a dental filling, is placed inside the cusp tips of the tooth.
Traditionally, gold has been the material of choice for inlays and onlays. However, in recent years, porcelain has become increasingly popular due to its strength and color, which has the potential of matching the natural color of your teeth.
How are inlays and onlays applied?
Two appointments are required for the completion of inlays and onlays.
During the first visit, the damaged or decaying area of the tooth (or the filling that is being replaced) is removed, and the tooth is prepared for the inlay or onlay. To ensure proper fit and bite, we make an impression of the tooth and send it to a lab for fabrication. Dr. McKenzie, Dr. Liszka, Dr. Coughlin, Dr. Myer or Dr. Fife then applies a temporary sealant on the tooth and schedules the next appointment.
At the second appointment, the temporary sealant is removed. Next, Drs. McKenzie, Liszka, Coughlin, Myer or Fife make sure that the inlay or onlay fits correctly. If the fit is satisfactory, the inlay or onlay is bonded to the tooth with a strong resin and polished to a smooth finish.
Considerations for Inlays and Onlays
Traditional fillings can reduce the strength of a natural tooth by up to 50 percent. Alternatively, inlays and onlays, which are bonded directly onto the tooth, using special high-strength resins, actually increase the strength of a tooth by up to 75 percent. As a result, they typically last from 10 to 30 years. In some cases, where the damage to the tooth is not extensive enough to merit an entire dental crown, onlays provide a very good alternative.