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 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.

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 potentially match the natural color of your teeth.

How Are Inlays And Onlays Applied?

Most inlays and onlays require only one appointment to complete using the CEREC CAD-CAM technology at Dr. Pan’s office. During your 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. In preparing the tooth for an inlay or onlay, Dr. Pan uses the CEREC CAD-CAM 3D system to capture a clear image of the tooth and meticulously reconstructs and refines the restoration on the computer screen until it is shaped into the perfect inlay or onlay that fits the tooth and signals the milling unit to begin fabricating the actual porcelain inlay or onlay. The beauty of this single visit procedure is that no impression needs to be taken and patient does not need to spend as much time keeping his/her mouth open and most of all, the precision is incomparable.

Only on rare occasions, will an inlay or onlay require two appointments in which an impression will be taken and sent to a dental laboratory to be fabricated. 

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. 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.