Inlays & Onlays

When more than half of the tooth’s biting surface is damaged a dentist will often use an inlay or onlay.

What are inlays and onlays?

Inlays and onlays can be made of ceramic, gold, or composite resin. These pieces are bonded to the damaged area of the tooth. An inlay, which is similar to a filling, is used inside the cusp tips of the tooth. An onlay is a more substantial reconstruction, similar to the inlay but extending out over one or more of the cusps of the tooth.

Traditionally, gold was the material of choice for inlays and onlays. In recent years, however, ceramic has become increasingly popular due to its strength and color, which can  match the natural color of your teeth.

How are inlays and onlays applied?

With Cerec, ceramic inlays and onlays only require one appointment to complete the procedure. During the visit, the filling being replaced or the damaged or decaying area of the tooth is removed, and the tooth is prepared for the inlay or onlay. To ensure proper fit and bite, an optical impression of the tooth is made. Dr. Tucker then designs the inlay or onlay and it is fabricated onsite. The milling of the ceramic only takes 10 to 15 minutes. Dr. Tucker will then make sure that the inlay or onlay fits correctly. If the fit is satisfactory, the inlay or onlay will be fired and glazed in a porcelain furnace, Bonding the restoration  to the tooth with a strong resin and polishing finishes the procedure.

Considerations for inlays and onlays

Traditional amalgam fillings can reduce the strength of a natural tooth by up to 50 percent. As an alternative, inlays and onlays, which are bonded directly onto the tooth using special high-strength resins, can actually increase the strength of a tooth by up to 75 percent. As a result, they can last from 10 to 30 years. In some cases, where the damage to the tooth is not extensive enough to merit an entire crown, onlays can provide a very good alternative.