Inlays and onlays are dental restorations that act as an alternative to dental crowns with complete coverage. These dental restorations provide a well-fitting, strong, and long-lasting tooth decay remedy. They may also be used in place of dental fillings. While dental fillings are molded inside the mouth during a single dental visit, inlays and onlays are manufactured in a dental laboratory, then installed and bonded to the damaged tooth in a follow up visit.
An inlay restoration is when the material is bonded within the center of the tooth. An onlay restoration, by contrast, allows for one or more cusps (the pointed part of the biting surface) to be inserted into the tooth. Both inlays and onlays are very durable, and can last for years with proper maintenance. Some of the reasons why these restorations are required include previously failed restorations or missing fillings.
Advantages and benefits of inlays and onlays include:
Tooth color – Inlays and onlays are not likely to discolor over time.
Superior fit – This conservative approach preserves as much healthy tooth as possible.
Tight space protection – Inlays are best for sealing teeth to keep out bacteria.
Strength and stability – Inlays and onlays are extremely stable restorative solutions for the treatment of decay.
Tooth structure safeguard – Since the fit is tailored at all edges and preparation is minimal, your tooth will be easier to clean.
Weak tooth protection – An onlay can protect the weak areas of the tooth and the procedure does not require the complete reshaping of the tooth.