Onlays and Inlays are restorations of posterior teeth which realistically resemble the color of natural teeth. They are manufactured in dental laboratories out of ceramic material or resin. Ideally teeth restored with onlays and inlays are natural teeth which lack large portions of dental substance. In these cases a simple white filling of the tooth has a very poor prognosis due to constant fracture into small or bigger pieces due to mastication forces and the inability of resin to withstand such big forces when it has to replace a lot of missing dental tissue at a tooh. This causes the patient to invest financially on the same tooth several times by restoring it multiple times with resin instead of following the safer solution of an onlay.
An onlay could also be described as a partial crown too due to its dimensions. It is not only an aesthetic solution but also necessary in similar cases as mentioned above. Inlays are smaller restorations and are more aesthetically oriented compared to onlays.
It takes two appointments to complete a restoration of an onlay or inlay. In the first session the old filling is removed, secondary caries (decay) underneath is being cleaned and the tooth is then shaped by the dentist. In the same session an impression of the tooth is done and the color of the restoration is chosen. In the second session the cementation of the onlay or inlay takes place, always with the use of rubber dam, along with a final digital xray to monitor the adaptation of the restoration. In between the two sessions the patient has a provisional restoration in their mouth which protects the tooth.
Advantages of Onlays and Inlays
- It is more aesthetic as a restoration
- It is made of better quality materials
- It adapts better to the residual tooth structure
- It has long-term durability
- There are less chances of secondary caries (decay) in the years to come
- It helps protect the tooth from fracture
Disadvantages of Onlays and Inlays
- It requires two sessions to be completed
- It is more expensive than a simple filling