Inlays and onlays are beautiful, natural looking restorations, sometimes referred to as partial crowns. These partial crowns are utilized when there is still a healthy enamel portion of the tooth.
An inlay is used when there is no damage to any of the cusps of your tooth and is essentially placed within these cusps.
An onlay is used when there is slightly more extensive damage to the tooth structure but not enough to merit an entire crown, onlays can provide a very good alternative. This type of restoration is placed over at least one of the cusps on the tooth.
Traditional Amalgam (silver) filling, can reduce the strength of a natural tooth by up to 50 percent. As an alternative, inlays and onlays, which are bonded directly onto the tooth using special high-strength resins, can actually increase the strength of a tooth by up to 75 percent. As a result, they can last longer for many years.
Inlays and onlays require two appointments to complete the procedure. During the first visit, the filling being replaced or the damaged or decaying area of the tooth is removed, and the tooth is prepared for the inlay or onlay . An impression of the tooth is made by the dentist, and sent to a lab for fabrication. A temporary restoration is placed on the tooth.
At the second appointment, the inlay or onlay is tried on to insure proper fit, and then it will be bonded to the tooth with strong resin cement and polished to a smooth finish.