Inlays/Onlays

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The information contained in or made available through this site cannot replace or substitute for the services of trained professionals in the medical field. You should consult a physician in all matters relating to your health, particularly concerning any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.

About Inlays and Onlays

In dentistry, an inlay is usually an indirect restoration (filling) consisting of a solid substance (as gold, porcelain or less often a cured composite resin) fitted to a cavity in a tooth and cemented into place. This technique involves fabricating the restoration outside of the mouth using the dental impressions of the prepared tooth, rather than placing a soft filling into the prepared tooth before the material sets hard.

An onlay is the same as an inlay, except that it incorporates a replacement for a tooth cusp by covering the area where the missing cusp would be. Crowns cover all surfaces of the anatomical tooth crown.

Inlays

Sometimes, a tooth is planned to be restored with an intracoronal restoration, but the decay or fracture is so extensive that a direct restoration, such as amalgam or composite, would compromise the structural integrity of the restored tooth or provide substandard opposition to occlusal (i.e., biting) forces. In such situations, an indirect gold or porcelain inlay restoration may be indicated.

Onlays

When decay or fracture incorporate areas of a tooth that make amalgam or composite restorations inadequate, such as cuspal fracture or remaining tooth structure that undermines perimeter walls of a tooth, an onlay might be indicated. Similar to an inlay, an onlay is an indirect restoration which incorporates a cusp or cusps by covering or onlaying the missing cusps. All of the benefits of an inlay are present in the onlay restoration. The onlay allows for conservation of tooth structure when the only alternative is to totally eliminate cusps and perimeter walls for restoration with a crown. Just as inlays, onlays are fabricated outside of the mouth and are typically made out of gold or porcelain. Gold restorations have been around for many years and have an excellent track record. In recent years, newer types of porcelains have been developed that seem to rival the longevity of gold. If the onlay or inlay is made in a dental laboratory, a temporary is fabricated while the restoration is custom-made for the patient. A return visit is then required to fit the final prosthesis. Inlays and onlays may also be fabricated out of porcelain and delivered the same day utilizing techniques and technologies relating to CAD/CAM dentistry.

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