Inlays & Onlays

When you have a small to a medium-sized cavity in a back tooth, it can often be repaired with tooth coloured composite resin. However, when a cavity is larger, you need a stronger filling material as your back teeth are under significant pressure when you chew food. An inlay or onlay can be a more appropriate choice.

These restorations can be made from gold or precious metal alloy polished to a high sheen, but they are often made from tooth-coloured porcelain. Modern porcelains are extremely strong and look beautiful, creating a virtually invisible and long-lasting restoration. Once the inlay or onlay is bonded onto the tooth, it restores its strength and structure so you can chew food without fear of the tooth crumbling or breaking any further. Inlays and onlays are slightly different from each other, and each is used in a specific situation.

What Is the Difference Between an Inlay and Onlay?

When a cavity is only in the central chewing surface of a back tooth, it can be repaired with an inlay made to fit precisely inside the cavity. However, if you have a cavity that affects the central chewing surface and one or more tooth cusps, this can be repaired with an onlay and which is slightly larger than an inlay. The cusps are the raised points on the outer and inner edges of the back tooth. The onlay will fit inside the cavity in the chewing surface and replaces the damaged cusps.

What is the Treatment Process for an Inlay or Onlay?

First, we will numb the tooth before our dentist carefully shapes it for the inlay or onlay, removing all the infection and decay. Once the tooth is prepared, we take a dental impression of the tooth and record the shade of your natural tooth. The impression and our prescription are sent to our dental laboratory, where they will make your restoration to our exact specifications.

While it is being made, we fit a temporary inlay or onlay to protect your tooth. Because this temporary filling is only lightly bonded in place, it is best to avoid chewing anything very hard or sticky that could break or dislodge it. Once your new inlay or only is ready, you return to Jetty Road Dental Clinic, where we will ensure your new inlay or onlay fits precisely before bonding it in place.