Inlays and Onlays

A durable way to restore teeth with small to moderate decay or loss of healthy tooth structure

Why an Inlay and/or Onlay?

  • Decay on a portion of any posterior tooth
  • Need for an esthetic, durable restoration
  • Desire to limit the amount of healthy tooth structure removed
  • Need to strengthen and reinforce the tooth

What is an Inlay or Onlay?

Inlays and onlays are dental restorations used as a conservative alternative to a composite filling or a full coverage crown. Also known as indirect fillings, inlays and onlays offer a well-fitting, stronger and longer lasting solution to repair a damaged tooth. These restorations are beneficial from both an esthetic and functional point of view.

Types of Inlays and/or Onlays

If Dr. Andow decides that an inlay or onlay is needed, there are different options. These options include ceramic inlays or onlays, or gold inlays or onlays. The ceramic restorations are extremely esthetic and will match the color of the surrounding teeth. They are, however, more brittle and may break if there is excessive chewing forces. The gold restorations are much more durable but will not match the surrounding tooth color. Dr. Andow will discuss with you what is the most appropriate for your situation.

The benefits of an Inlay and/or Onlay

Inlays and onlays enable the tooth to be restored in a durable way. Since they are made in a dental laboratory, these restorations have stronger physical properties than composites and can be more meticulously sculpted. They are bonded to the tooth, helping to prevent tooth fracture and actually strengthening the tooth.

Because an inlay replaces only internal surfaces of the tooth and an onlay replaces only the parts of the teeth that are weakened by decay, inlays and onlays require the removal of only the decayed or weak areas of the tooth, leaving more healthy tooth structure intact. This can increase durability and help prevent the expense of root canal therapy in the future.

For information on how to care for your new inlay and/or onlay, click here .

Are there other treatment options?

In cases of extensive decay or loss of tooth structure, crowns may be the only alternative. For smaller areas of decay, composite fillings are an good choice.

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