Inlays and onlays can be used to restore a tooth with extensive areas of decay or damage that would be difficult to repair with a normal filling. As they are more durable than fillings, they are usually placed on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth or can repair large areas on the front teeth. They also offer a less invasive alternative to the full coverage provided by crowns.
Inlays and onlays are made from hard wearing materials such as porcelain or composite resin. If aesthetics are not an issue, gold is a hardwearing choice. Unlike fillings, they are produced outside the mouth in a dental laboratory and then fitted to the tooth by the dentist. An inlay is cemented within the cavity and an onlay covers more of the tooth and extends over the edges.
- Any areas of decay or old fillings are removed and the tooth cleaned.
- An impression is taken and this is used to create the inlay or onlay so it will exactly match the area to be filled.
- So the prepared cavity can be protected while the inlay or onlay is being produced, a temporary restoration can be fitted.
- When ready, the inlay or onlay is checked for fit and comfort, and then fixed permanently in place with a strong dental adhesive.
Inlays and onlays are very stable restorations that will fit a damaged tooth perfectly to provide superior protection. The affected tooth requires minimal preparation and the inlay or onlay is tailored to fit so they can be easier to keep clean than other restorations.