Inlay and Onlay
An excellent way to restore teeth with small to
ï¿½ Any level of decay or moderate fracture on a
portion of any tooth
ï¿½ Need for a long-term, durable restoration
ï¿½ Desire to limit the amount of healthy tooth structure
ï¿½ Need to strengthen and reinforce tooth
Inlays and Onlays
Unlike large, ugly metal fillings of years past,
our dentists provide a more attractive restoration
that actually strengthens the tooth. Inlays and
onlays provide healthy, beautiful restorations
for your teeth.
In recent years, dentists have learned that the
metal filings in your mouth act much like metal
does outside the mouth. Exposed to heat and cold,
such as hot coffee or ice cream, the metal fillings
in your teeth expand and contract. As they shift,
they can actually weaken the teeth they were meant
to protect. Often, the expansion and contraction
leads to cracking of the entire tooth.
As the filling expands and contracts, it can also
leave a small opening where harmful bacteria can
enter and become trapped, leading to further decay
of the tooth. Rarely do we remove silver fillings
without finding additional decay underneath.
An inlay or onlay is a much more conservative restoration
for the tooth than a metal filling. While traditional
fillings can reduce tooth strength by up to 50%,
inlays and onlays made of high strength porcelain
can actually increase tooth strength by up to 75%,
lasting from 10 to 30 years.
Inlays, similar to fillings, are used inside the
cusp tips of a tooth. Inlays are created out of
fired porcelain, allowing us to perfectly match
the color of your natural tooth, making the restoration
invisible to the naked eye.
Onlays are made of fired porcelain, just like inlays.
However, onlays are a more substantial reconstruction,
extending out over one or more of the cusps of
the tooth. Where a crown may have been necessary,
an onlay can often be used to repair the damaged
portion of the tooth, leaving much more of the
original tooth structure intact.
Inlays and onlays are incredibly strong due to
the fact that they are created in a laboratory.
This protects the tooth from fracturing and actually
strengthens the tooth. In addition, inlays and
onlays fit almost perfectly into the prepared surface
of the tooth, reducing the size of the seam between
the restoration and the tooth. This helps keep
decay from eventually occurring under the restoration.
Inlays and onlays require the removal of only decayed
and fractured areas of the tooth, leaving more
healthy tooth structure intact. This can help prevent
the expense of root canal therapy in the future.
Decay is removed and cleaned from the tooth and
core build-up is placed to insulate the pulp. Then
a highly accurate impression or mold is made of
the prepared surface. This mold is used to create
a model of the tooth which is then sent to a special
laboratory that will create a porcelain (tooth
colored) restoration called an inlay or onlay.
Approximately one week later the inlay/onlay is
available for cementation. The inlay or onlay is
then cemented into the prepared surface of the
An inlay covers only one or two surfaces of the
tooth and is used to restore a small amount of
decay. An onlay actually covers one or more cusps
(the chewing surface of the tooth.) and offers
greater protection for moderately fractured teeth.
Often it is advantageous to whiten teeth before
treatment so that the new restoration color matches
the desired whiter, brighter smile.
As a person ages it becomes more important to restore
teeth with materials that add strength and functions.
As teeth get older, they become more brittle and
susceptible to recurrent decay and fracture ï¿½ especially
around amalgam fillings. When this occurs, root
canal, or even extraction can become necessary.
So, there is a real need for a restoration that
will add strength, plus have excellent estheticsï¿½
such as cementable porcelain inlays/onlays. In
dentistry, today there are many different materials
and techniques used to fix teeth. Recently, white
ï¿½bonded-compositeï¿½ fillings have replaced the old
fashioned ï¿½bonded-amalgamï¿½ filling.
|Unfortunately, many of these teeth, when the
old silver filling is removed, show extensive decay
not evident on X-rays. Also, the old filling produces
internal stress fractures in the remaining tooth
structure, which results in this part of the tooth
not being able to support a white or silver filling.
Previously, dentists had only two alternatives,
a gold filling, or a full crown (cap). Both were
either not aesthetically pleasing, or not conservative
in the tooth reduction required to place restoration
Fortunately, now your teeth can be both restored
and save more of the healthy parts of your tooth.
Porcelain restorations are pieces of ceramic material
that matches the natural color of other teeth in
your mouth. Dental research has shown that when
these porcelain pieces are cemented into your tooth,
the strength of your tooth returns to 100% of the
original toothï¿½s structure! The ceramic material
is compatible with the tissue in your mouth, and
is high grade anti-abrasive and plaque resistant.
An inlay fits within the contours of the tooth, and is cemented to the remaining
tooth structure. An inlay is indicated when the chewing surface of the restoration
is too big to support a filling. A porcelain or gold inlay will reinforce and
resist chewing wear and tear better than any filling material.
An onlay fits within the contours of the tooth and covers part or all of the
chewing surface needing to be restored. It goes far beyond a filling in returning
the original strength and chewing power to that missing part of your tooth.
Another benefit is that it looks like your tooth did before any problem existed
in the tooth. Finally, the tooth preparation needed for an onlay is less
than for a full crown (cap). This more conservative procedure can prevent
extra dental therapy from being needed such as root canal, or crown lengthening,
which is more likely with a crown treatment.