When our rear teeth have mild to moderate decay, dental inlays or onlays are used to restore the decayed teeth. Inlays and onlays are even used to restore cracked or fractured tooth if the damage is not severe. If damage is severe then dental crown can resolve the problem.
Inlays and onlays are made from various materials like porcelain, gold and composite resin. They look more natural as they are made from material which has same color as our teeth. Hence now a day’s inlays and onlays are used in replacement of metal fillings.
Dental inlays are used for the teeth which have decay lying between the cusps of the teeth. Inlay fills the space between the cusps or at the center of the tooth.
Dental onlays are used for large cavities for which crown is not required and inlay cannot be used. Onlay covers one or more cusps or it covers whole biting surface of the tooth.
Due to extensive coverage, onlays are also called as partial crown. Procedure for dental inlays and onlays is similar. It can be done in one or two visits to the doctor.
If doctor has CEREC machine in his office then he can do inlay or onlay in single visit. Under local anaesthesia damaged part of the tooth is removed using drilling machine, dental laser or air-abrasion device. Then with the help of CEREC, by taking picture of your tooth dentist can create inlay or onlay in his clinic itself.
If doctor does not have this machine then you need two visits to complete the procedure. During first visit doctor will remove the damaged part of the tooth. Then he will take impression of the cleaned tooth and send it to dental laboratory.
The cost of the procedure depends upon various factors like material used for inlay or onlay, number of teeth on which procedure needs to be done, cost of material and dental lab, location of tooth and size of restoration.
Life of inlay or onlay depends on the material with which they are made. The size of the filling and material you choose according to your budget determines the life of your inlay or onlay. Following regular oral hygiene, brushing, flossing and regular visits to your dentist will help to prolong its life. If cared properly they can last for 15-20 years.