What are inlays and onlays?
An inlay restores one or two surfaces of the tooth and is used for minimally decayed areas. Onlays cover part or all of the chewing surface of the tooth. Both are available in gold or porcelain.
What are inlays and onlays used for?
A durable, long-term solution that reinforces the tooth, helps prevent fracture, and requires minimal removal of healthy tooth structure.
How are inlays and onlays placed?
After the decay has been removed, an impression is taken to give a highly accurate reproduction of the shape of the tooth. A provisional restoration is temporarily cemented on the tooth, and the mold is sent to a dental laboratory where a custom inlay or onlay is fabricated. The inlay or onlay is then cemented to the tooth.
The custom laboratory fabrication makes inlays and onlays a perfect fit. This decreases the chance of recurrent decay (decay along the line between the restoration and your tooth). Because they were made in a lab, they are very strong, and they protect and strengthen the tooth.
They have a higher initial investment because they are fabricated in a lab, but the increased longevity and decreased risk of fractures makes them the better long-term investment. Inlays and onlays may need to be replaced or recemented due to normal wear.
Other possible treatments:
Crowns are needed for extensively decayed teeth.