Inlays & Onlays

If 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 porcelain, 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. In most cases where the damage to the tooth is not extensive enough to merit an entire crown, onlays can provide a very good alternative.

Traditionally, gold has been the material of choice for inlays and onlays. In recent years, however, porcelain has become increasingly popular due to its strength and color, which can match the natural color of your teeth. Porcelain inlays and onlays are done in our office with a state-of-the-art CEREC imaging unit. This CAD CAM technology gives you the opportunity to have a tooth restored to back to its natural shape, strength and color in a single visit without the need for impressions or temporaries. This new technology is truly the future of dentistry.

How are inlays and onlays applied?

The existing restoration is removed from the tooth and the tooth is minimally shaped to accomaoate the CEREC restoration. An aquisition scanner takes digital images of the prepared tooth and bite. The inlay or onlay is designed on a computer using a very advanced and precise software program. This information is then wirelessly relayed to a milling unit in our office. The milling unit shapes the restoration with amazing accuracy in minutes. The inlay or onlay is then bonded to the tooth with a strong adhesive resin and polished to a smooth finish.

Considerations for inlays and onlays

Traditional 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.