Inlays and onlays, part of restorative dentistry, are both means of restoring decayed or damaged teeth to their normal strength and natural appearance. Whether or not you need an inlay or onlay is determined by the remaining amount of natural tooth left and its structural integrity.
Inlays and onlays are both solutions to returning a decayed tooth to its normal functioning. the Both can be made of resin, gold, or porcelain, but they are neither crowns nor caps. They’re akin to dental fillings, but are larger and involve more of the tooth’s above-the-gum body.
Inlays repair cavities that have destroyed large portions of the interior of the tooth. Inlays provide a damaged tooth with more strength and durability than a filling. Large fillings can shatter, destroying the remnants of the tooth or leaving it too weak to support other options. Reinforcing the tooth from the inside out prevents cracks and fractures. Inlays also replace a portion of the tooth’s chewing surface.
Onlays, like inlays, fill large cavities. They also replace the tooth cusp, a raised part of the chewing surface of the tooth. Onlays don’t sit on top of the tooth’s complete surface and thus are not crowns. Made from one solid piece of resin, gold, porcelain or metal alloy, they replace a large portion of the tooth than an inlay.
Fitting and placing an inlay or onlay takes two visits. Your dentist will precisely determine whether or not you need an inlay or onlay, take the measurements of the tooth, and send that information to a lab where they’ll be made.
As inlays and onlays are required to restore good oral health, most insurances cover most or all of the costs involved.