Inlays & Onlays Tempe AZ

When more than half of the tooth’s biting surface is damaged a dentist will often use an inlay or onlay.

What Are Inlays and Onlays?

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 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 and it remains an exceptional material for these restorations. In recent years, however, porcelain has become increasingly popular due to its cosmetic qualities. The improvements in the strength of these new ceramics as well as the ability to bond them to teeth have allowed them to become an excellent choice.

How are inlays and onlays done?

Inlays and onlays require two appointments to complete the procedure. During the first visit, the filling being replaced or the damaged or decaying area of the tooth is removed, and the tooth is prepared for the inlay or onlay. An impression of the tooth is then made by the dentist, and sent to a lab for custom fabrication. The dentist will then apply a temporary inlay or onlay to the tooth and schedule the next appointment about 2 weeks later.

At the second appointment, the temporary restoration is removed. Dr. Fletcher will then make sure that the inlay or onlay fits correctly. If the fit is satisfactory, the inlay or onlay will be bonded to the tooth with a strong resin and polished to a smooth finish.

Considerations for inlays and onlays

If they become large traditional fillings can reduce the strength of a natural tooth significantly. 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 30 years. In some cases, where the damage to the tooth is not extensive enough to merit an entire crown, onlays can provide a very good alternative.