Restorative dentistry has come a long way over the years and there are now several effective ways to correct decayed teeth. In this post from The Yuma Dentist, we concentrate on two similar types of restorations: inlays and onlays.
Where possible, an inlay or an onlay can be a less-invasive replacement for a complete crown and either one is usually more affordable than a porcelain crown procedure.
Inlays/onlays are “indirect fillings,” meaning that they are fabricated in a lab and placed whole on the tooth. A traditional “direct filling” is applied to the tooth while the material is malleable and then shaped by the dentist.
So, what’s the difference between an inlay and an onlay?
An inlay is used to repair the surface of a damaged tooth, commonly to fill a small cavity or a natural pit that is at risk for decay.
Porcelain or composite resin is used most often. These materials are tough and look very natural because the color can be matched precisely to the surrounding teeth. An inlay is exactly fitted to your tooth and looks, feels, and functions like the original tooth.
An onlay covers a larger part of the tooth. Because they cover such a large area of the tooth, they are often referred to as partial crowns. Onlays are commonly applied to the biting surface of the tooth. Just like inlays, they are accurately fitted to the damaged part of the tooth. Composite resin and porcelain are also the main materials used to create an onlay. As mentioned before, inlays and onlays serve a critical role in restorative and cosmetic dentistry.