Inlays & Onlays | Austin TX

When more than half of the tooth’s biting surface is damaged, a dentist will often use an inlay or onlay.

What are inlays and onlays?

Inlays are an alternative to a filling. Fillings are usually made up of material where individual particles such as resin are bonded together. With an inlay, the tooth receives a solid, one piece restoration such as ceramic or gold that is cemented into the tooth. An onlay is essentially the same thing as an inlay except the onlay also covers the cusp of a tooth. Both inlays and onlays are considered to be a more conservative way of restoring a tooth than a traditional crown.

How are inlays and onlays applied?

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. To ensure proper fit and bite, an impression of the tooth is made by the dentist, and sent to a lab for fabrication. The dentist will then apply a temporary sealant on the tooth and schedule the next appointment.

At the second appointment, the temporary sealant is removed. Dr. Miller will then make sure that the inlay or onlay fits correctly. If the fit is satisfactory, the inlay or onlay will be bonded to the tooth with a strong resin and polished to a smooth finish.

Considerations for inlays and onlays

Traditional fillings 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 from 10 to 30 years. In some cases, where the damage to the tooth is not extensive enough to merit an entire crown, onlays can provide a very good alternative.