Inlays & Onlays

When a more substantial amount (greater than ½) of your tooth’s biting surface is damaged or previously filled, we may recommend an Inlay or Onlay Traditional fillings can reduce the strength of a natural tooth by up to 50%. As an alternative, inlays and onlays, being bonded directly onto the tooth using special high-strength resin or cement, can actually increase the strength of a tooth by up to 75%. As a result, they can last substantially longer than fillings. Inlays and onlays can be made of porcelain, gold, or composite resin. Traditionally, gold has been the material of choice for inlays and onlays in back teeth. In recent years, however, porcelain and resin have become increasingly popular due to their strength and color, potentially matching the natural color of your teeth. These inlays or onlays are bonded to the damaged area of the tooth. An inlay is used inside the cusp tips of the tooth; an onlay, a more substantial reconstruction, is similar to the inlay but extends over one or more of the cusps of the tooth. In cases where the damage to the tooth is not extensive enough to merit an entire crown, onlays provide a very good alternative.

The Procedure:

Your First Appointment:

  • The old filling is removed along with any additional decay.
  • An impression is taken of your prepared tooth and then a stone model of your teeth is created in our on site laboratory
  • The preferred shape and custom color shade of your future restoration is selected and temporary acrylic inlay or onlay is placed on the tooth and cemented for easy removal at your next visit.

At the Lab:

Porcelain or composite resin material is carefully molded into the model of your teeth. It is then individually color characterized to look natural.

Your Second Appointment:

  • The temporary inlay or onlay is removed.
  • A conditioning gel is placed on your tooth to prepare it for the new inlay or onlay.
  • Bonding cement is placed on the tooth and a high intensity light bonds the restoration to the tooth.
  • The tooth is then polished.

In the end, your teeth have been strengthened and aesthetically restored to a custom shape and color.

Advantages of Tooth-Colored Inlays and Onlays

There are many advantages to tooth colored restorations. Resin onlays are bonded to the teeth creating a tight, superior fit to the natural tooth. The previously compromised tooth remains intact and its strength increased. The custom color, contours, and shape of your tooth is restored.