When over 1/2 of the tooth's biting surface is damaged a dentist will often use an inlay or onlay.
Inlays and onlays can be made of porcelain, gold, or composite resin. These pieces are bonded to the damaged area of the tooth. An inlay, which is similar to a filling, is used inside the cusp tips of the tooth; an onlay is a more substantial reconstruction, similar to the inlay but extending out over one or more of the cusps of the tooth.
Traditionally, gold has been the material of choice for inlays and onlays. In recent years, however, with advances in materials, porcelain has become increasingly popular due to its strength and colour, which can potentially match the natural colour of your teeth.
Fitting an inlay or onlay may involve two visits to the clinic, the first to take impressions which are sent to a dental laboratory for manufacture, the second to have the inlay / onlay fitted. However, at Cedar Clinic, we have the facility, where appropriate, to use CEREC, one of the most advanced products in world dentistry, which allows inlay and onlays to be made in one visit. With the use of computer aided technology, you can watch the dentist design, manufacture and then fit an aesthetically perfect restoration to your decayed tooth.
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 resins, can actually increase the strength of a tooth.
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.