Dental inlays and onlays are restorations used to
repair rear teeth that have a mild to moderate amount
of decay. They can also be used to restore teeth that
are cracked or fractured if the damage is not severe
enough to require a dental crown. Inlays and onlays
are usually made from porcelain, composite resin,
and sometimes even from gold. Because they can be
created from tooth-colored materials, inlays and onlays
are often used to replace metal fillings for patients
who desire a more natural looking smile. Read on to
find out about how inlays and onlays may be able to
enhance your smile’s health and appearance.
Inlays and onlays are sometimes referred to as partial
crowns. These partial crowns are utilized when there
is still a healthy enamel portion of the tooth. An
inlay or onlay is a like a puzzle piece that will
be fitted into the remaining portion of the tooth
to help increase its strength. This piece is usually
crafted out of porcelain or gold, but can also be
made of a composite material. We will make the determination
as to which restoration will work best in your specific
An inlay is used when there is not damage to any
of the cusps of your tooth and is essentially place
within these cusps. An onlay is used when there is
slightly more extensive damage to the tooth structure.
This type of restoration is placed over at least one
of the cusps on the tooth.
When we have decided to go ahead with an inlay or
onlay, we will set aside 2-3 appointments for the
entire process. Although the majority of inlays and
onlays are completed in two visits, there is sometimes
a need for a third visit to ensure a proper fit.
The procedure begins with the removal of all decay
in the tooth. Once we have removed the decay, we will
take an impression of the tooth. This impression will
be sent to our lab where your new restoration will
be crafted. While this new tooth is created, we will
provide you with a temporary restoration. Our temporary
restorations will resemble your natural teeth so that
you can continue with your daily life without worrying
about a missing or incompatible tooth.
During your second visit to the office, we will proceed
with the placement of your final restoration. The
inlay/onlay will be fitted comfortably into the mouth.
We will make every effort to ensure that the new restoration
feels exactly like one of your natural teeth. The
final step in the process is to cement the inlay/onlay
into your mouth, leaving you with a beautifully restored