Similar to fillings, inlays and onlays are used to restore a tooth's integrity and function following damage. The difference being that, whereas a standard filling is applied directly into/onto your tooth and hardens in your mouth, inlays and onlays are custom-made out of the mouth and then cemented in place. Inlays and onlays are used when the tooth structure is not sufficient enough to place a regular filling and the result is much stronger.
The difference between inlays and onlays is that an inlay is placed inside a cavity on your tooth whilst an onlay replaces the cusp(s) (tips) of your tooth. These two terms are often used interchangeably.
After an initial consultation with you to discuss your options, the process of placing inlays and onlays is usually spread over two appointments, although it can be possible to have both appointments on the same day at Smilemakers using the unique Cerec technology.
The different types of inlays and onlays each have their own characteristics and strengths and weaknesses, some of which are listed below. Remember that these are all relative and that the best person to talk to is your dentist!
Very strong and less likely to break than other fillings and inlays/onlays
Similar wear rate to natural tooth enamel and therefore less likely to wear opposing teeth than porcelain
The gold content of the crown alloys a very close fit to be achieve to the underlying tooth
Appearance can be an issue for some people
High cost due to gold content
The optimal choice for aesthetics with less tooth preparation than for porcelain
Composite is weaker than gold or porcelain and not suitable for all cases
More technique-dependent to place
Good aesthetics can be achieved with less tooth preparation than a crown
Porcelain can fracture
More abrasive on opposing teeth than gold