Also referred to as partial crowns, inlays are used when there is no damage to the cusp of the tooth and it can be placed right on the tooth, and onlays are used when the damage is more extensive. Both use your existing tooth as the base and fit the inlay or onlay over top of the tooth. We use inlays and onlays to strengthen your tooth, restore its shape, and prevent further damage.
Inlays and onlays are dental procedures used to repair decay on portions of the tooth’s surface. Depending on where, and to what extent, the decay has reached, will determine which treatment will be used.
Inlays have traditionally been used instead of fillings to replace a small amount of decay-induced tooth loss. Inlays act like a filling and fit inside of the tooth, and have been made only of gold in the past. Today, inlays are also referred to as partial crowns and are used when there is no damage to the cusp of the tooth, so the inlay can be placed right on the tooth. Instead of gold, they can be made to match the color of your teeth by using material such as ceramic, porcelain, or tooth-colored composite.
Fillings that need to be repaired or are unsightly can be replaced by inlays and bonded to the tooth the same way a filling or sealant would be. The bonding process can even improve your tooth’s strength and keep it healthier for longer.
Onlays, on the other hand, are used when the damage is more extensive. They also fit inside the tooth, but the main difference is that they extend onto the chewing surface in order to replace one or more cusps, usually on your back teeth. Like inlays, onlays used to be made only of gold, but can now be made to perfectly match the color of your natural teeth. By making the onlay out of ceramic or porcelain material, the restoration can bond securely to the tooth. This bonding process may actually improve the strength of the tooth and help seal the onlay to the tooth.
Both inlays and onlays use your existing tooth as the base and fit over the top of the tooth. We use inlays and onlays to strengthen your tooth, restore its shape, and prevent further damage. Dr. Angart will be able to advise whether you need an inlay or onlay instead of a regular filling. He will consider factors including if the broken or decayed teeth affects the cusp of the tooth if the damage is extensive enough to require a large dental filling that may weaken the remaining structure, and if the damage allows for the removal of enough tooth material to support mounting a crown.