Inlays and Onlays

When more than half of a tooth’s chewing surface is damaged from decay or fracture, an inlay or an onlay is often used to restore it.

What are inlays and onlays?

Inlays and onlays are extremely durable restorations that are fabricated by a dental laboratory and bonded to the damaged area of a tooth. Depending on their use, these can be made of ceramic, gold, or composite resin. An inlay, which is similar to a filling, is used inside the cusp tips of the tooth. An onlay is a more substantial restoration, similar to an inlay but extending out over one or more of the cusps of the tooth.

How are inlays and onlays applied?

Inlays and onlays usually require two appointments to complete the procedure. At the first visit, the filling being replaced or the damaged / decaying area of the tooth is removed, and the tooth is prepared for the inlay or onlay. An impression of the tooth is taken and sent to the dental laboratory for fabrication. To protect the tooth, a temporary filling is placed. At the second visit, the temporary filling is removed, and the inlay or onlay is placed in the tooth. If both the fit and aesthetics are satisfactory, the inlay or onlay will be bonded to the tooth using a strong resin and polished to a smooth finish.