Inlays and Onlays can be made of porcelain, or composite resin. The material is bonded to a tooth which is damaged by decay or cracked/broken. They can also be used to replace old metal fillings. An inlay is similar to a filling, and is used inside the cusp tips of the tooth. (Cusps are the “points” of the tooth.) An onlay is a more substantial reconstruction, similar to an inlay, but extending over one more more cusps of the tooth. They are also often referred to as partial crowns.
Inlays & Onlays are alternatives to traditional fillings. Where fillings can reduce the strength of a natural tooth by up to 50%, inlays & onlays bond to the tooth and use special high-strength resins, actually increasing the strength of a tooth by up to 75%. As a result, they can last from 10 – 30 years.
How are inlays and onlays applied?
First, the decayed area of the tooth is removed and the remaining surfaces are cleaned. An impression of the tooth is taken, and a restoration is created by a laboratory. A temporary inlay/only is placed onto the tooth. When the permanent inlay/onlay is received from the lab, it is placed onto the tooth and set with a special bonding cement, then polished to a natural looking finish.
Do inlays/onlays require special care?
Maintaining good oral hygiene is all that is necessary, brushing and flossing daily and maintaining regular dental check-ups.