There are times when a tooth suffers damage that is too great to be treated with a traditional filling; however, a full dental crown is not necessary. In these cases, an inlay or onlay may be the perfect restoration.
Inlays and onlays are custom restorations that are bonded to the damaged portion of a tooth. Inlays are similar to fillings that are placed between the points or cusps of a tooth while onlays extend over one or more of the cusps of the tooth. Porcelain has become an increasingly popular choice for inlays and onlays due to its color, strength, and shine, which closely resembles natural teeth.
Inlays and onlays are also known as indirect fillings because unlike traditional fillings, they are custom-made outside of the mouth. Inlays and onlays typically require two appointments to be placed. The first visit involves removing the damage and any existing filling material.
Impressions of the tooth are then taken to ensure a proper fit and bite for the restoration. These are sent to a dental laboratory where your restoration will be created. During your next appointment, your permanent inlay or onlay is fitted on the tooth, and the tooth is polished to give it a natural finish.