While many patients are familiar with crowns, veneers, and bridges as dental repair options, a lot of patients are not familiar with inlays & onlays, which are extremely helpful in many situations.
Inlays and onlays are both custom made from materials like porcelain, gold, and composite materials. While similar, there are distinct differences between the two. Dental inlays are similar to dental fillings and are used to repair pockets of decay. The dental material used is between the rounded edges in the center of the biting area of a tooth. Dental onlays also called “partial crowns,” are also similar to fillings, but may span the space between more than one cusp, or even the entire chewing surface. Onlays, in particular, are ideal alternatives to dental crowns since less dental material needs to be removed to make space for the onlay.
Reasons patients need inlays or onlays:
Receiving an inlay or onlay is a relatively simple process that requires two visits. During the first visit, highly detailed impressions are made of the mouth in order to create the custom onlay or inlay. A temporary appliance will be put in place to protect the tooth while the final version is made. At the second appointment, your dentist will secure the finalized appliance in place and make any necessary last minute adjustments.
Like all dental appliances, inlays and onlays are not permanent and will need to be replaced someday, but following a proper oral hygiene routine and visiting your dentist for your biannual dental exam can greatly expand the life of your dental inlays and onlays.