Inlays and Onlays
Traditional inlays are used instead of fillings to replace a small amount of tooth loss due to decay.
Onlays are similar, but instead of just fitting inside of the tooth, they also cover the chewing surface and are typically used on the back teeth and can cover one or more of the cusps of the tooth.
If you’ve had previous fillings that are failing or appear unsightly, your dentist can replace or repair them with a modern inlay which will improve the function and appearance of the filling.
New developments have allowed for ceramic or porcelain onlays that more closely match the original tooth color and allow for bonding of the material to the tooth. Recent research suggests that these newer onlays and bonds help to strengthen and improve the tooth.
Knowing When to Use Inlays or Onlays
All of these treatments have specific benefits and drawbacks, so be sure to discuss any questions you have with your dentist before agreeing to a particular treatment.
If you have opted for a color-treated inlay, it should match your existing tooth color.
At your initial visit, you won’t leave with the permanent onlay because it hasn’t been created in the laboratory yet. Instead, your dentist will give you a temporary filling to protect your tooth while you wait and at your second appointment, your dentist will install your permanent inlay or onlay. They may have to shape it slightly to fit your tooth, but this is usually minimal.
After the restoration fits your tooth, your dentist will permanently attach it to your tooth with a resin, or type of glue, that cures when it is exposed to a specific kind of light. After the tooth is cured, it should be as strong or stronger than your other teeth but will require the same level of care.