When a tooth is too decayed or fractured to be treated with a direct filling, but the tooth’s structure is not sufficiently damaged to require a full dental crown, your dentist may recommend an inlay or onlay to conserve as much of your natural tooth as possible. Inlays and onlays are known as indirect fillings because they are made in a dental laboratory and then placed onto your tooth. This is in contrast to a direct filling which is placed directly on the tooth in one appointment at your dentist’s office.
The inlay/onlay procedure
Inlays and onlays are performed over multiple visits.
At the first appointment, the areas of decay or damage are removed and the tooth is prepared to receive the dental inlay or onlay.
Using a small tray filled with dental putty that fits over the teeth, the dentist takes a mold (impression) of the damaged tooth. This impression is sent off to the dental laboratory, where a dental inlay or onlay is created that will fit your tooth exactly. While the inlay or onlay is being created at the lab, the dentist creates a temporary filling for your tooth to protect it until your next appointment. With newer scanning technology available at Yonge Eglinton Dental, the impression can be taken digitally, eliminating the need for placing a tray filled with dental putty on your teeth.
At the second appointment, your dentist will remove the temporary restoration, ensure the produced inlay or onlay fits correctly, bond it to the tooth with a strong cement, and then polish it so it’s smooth and comfortable.
The advantage of inlays/onlays
Inlays and onlays require little maintenance and they will generally last longer than direct fillings.
The disadvantage of inlays/onlays
Inlays and onlays require multiple appointments to complete.