Inlays and Onlays
A cavity or chip that occurs near the back of the mouth, where significant chewing force is an issue, can often be addressed using an inlay or an onlay, also known as indirect fillings. Unlike ordinary fillings, these restorative dentistry devices are custom-created in a lab from a durable porcelain or composite material and affixed to the tooth using a dental adhesive. They are able not only to restore damaged dental tissue and protect the tooth, but to add strength to the tooth structure as well.
Differences between Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and onlays differ only in the way that they are used. An inlay is used to restore material between the cusps (points) of a tooth; for example, by filling a cavity at the center of a molar. An onlay, on the other hand, replaces tooth structure that includes one or more of the cusps and any portion of the chewing surface.
Placing Inlays and Onlays
The procedure for placing an inlay or onlay begins the same way as the procedure for placing a filling. First, the tooth must be cleaned and all decayed material must be removed. Then, instead of adding a filling, the dentist will make an impression of the tooth. Using this impression, the inlay or onlay will be created at a dental lab to precisely fit the cavity. Meanwhile, a temporary restoration will be put in place to protect the tooth. During a subsequent visit, the inlay or onlay will be checked for fit and then bonded to the tooth using dental cement.
Dental Care for Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and onlays are a long-lasting restorative dentistry option when cared for properly. It is important to practice good at-home dental care and to visit the dentist regularly for dental exams.