Inlays & Onlays
When more than half of the tooth’s biting surface is damaged, a dentist will often use an inlay or onlay.
Inlays and onlays can be made of porcelain, gold, or composite resin. These pieces are bonded to the damaged area of the tooth. An inlay, which is similar to a dental filling is used inside the cusp tips of the tooth. An onlay is a more substantial reconstruction, similar to the inlay but extending out over one or more of the cusps of the tooth.
Traditionally, gold has been the material of choice for inlays and onlays. In recent years, however, porcelain has become increasingly popular due to its strength and color, which can potentially match the natural color of your teeth.
Considerations for Inlays and Onlays
Traditional fillings can reduce the strength of a natural tooth by up to 50 percent. As an alternative, inlays and onlays, which are bonded directly onto the tooth using special high-strength resins, can actually increase the strength of a tooth by up to 75 percent. As a result, they can last from 10 to 20 years. In some cases, where the damage to the tooth is not extensive enough to merit an entire dental crown, onlays can provide a very good alternative.
Replacing Silver Fillings
You can have your silver fillings replaced with tooth-colored restorations (onlays). This process requires two appointments.
Your First Appointment:
- The old filling is removed along with any additional decay.
- An impression is made of your teeth. A model of your teeth is made and sent to the lab.
- A temporary onlay is placed on the tooth.
At the Lab: A resin is carefully placed into the model of your teeth. It is then designed to look natural.
Your Second Appointment:
- The temporary onlay is removed.
- A conditioning gel is placed on your tooth to prepare it for the new onlay.
- Bonding cement is placed on the tooth and a high-intensity light bonds the resin to the tooth.
- The tooth is then polished.
Your teeth are restored to a natural look and feel, they are stronger and the tooth is protected!