Gone are the days when tooth ailments and cavities could only be treated with unsightly metal fillings. Today, modern, tooth-colored fillings made of durable resin or porcelain can be bonded to your teeth for a stronger, more natural-looking effect.
Tooth decay that affects a small area can be repaired using traditional dental fillings. When the tooth damage is more extensive, inlays and onlays are utilized. They are used when more than 1/3 of the biting surface is damaged, or a cusp needs to be replaced.
What Are Inlays and Onlays?
Inlays and onlays are constructed from porcelain, composite resin or gold. An inlay is used to repair damage to the biting surface, while an onlay is made when damage extends over a cusp of the affected tooth. Gold has been the material traditionally employed but tooth-colored porcelain has increasingly replaced it.
Porcelain inlays and onlays create fillings that are not beautiful and also add strength to weakened teeth. Once the tooth is carefully shaped, an impression is made of the prepared tooth for the laboratory to fabricate your restoration. The precision restoration is then bonded to your tooth and polished.
Unlike a traditional filling, resin or porcelain onlays are bonded to the teeth creating a tighter fit to the natural tooth structure. For that reason, they can be used when much of the tooth structure has been lost. The onlay-repaired tooth remains intact and stronger. The onlay wears like natural teeth do and does not require placement at the gum line, which is healthier for your gums.