In situations where a filling is not enough and a crown is too much to protect dental decay, dentists may use inlay and onlay fillings to close the gap. They are considered to be more substantial than regular fillings, but not as intrusive as crowns. Inlays fill in the hollows in the tooth between cusps while onlays can work for a larger area that includes the cusps.
An inlay is similar to a filling that is used inside the cusp tips of the tooth where pieces are bonded to the damaged area. It’s a more substantial reconstruction that can extend out over one or more of the cusps of the tooth. Although inlays and onlays can be made of gold or composite resin, porcelain is the most common choice of material because of its high strength and colour, which can often match the natural colour of teeth.
Inlays are moulded to fit the surface of a tooth that has been damaged. Imprints of the affected areas are sent to a lab for the inlay manufacturing, however, at Peak Dental Arts we are able to use intraoral scanners and fabricate inlays and onlays in one visit! The dentist will attempt to best match the colour of the tooth with the inlay. Although the porcelain material may be more expensive, they are also longer lasting. Another benefit of inlays and onlays is their durability. These types of fillings can be long-lasting with a life span between 5 and 30 years.
Onlays are used for damage and decay to the cusps of the tooth and the biting surface. When a cavity is too big to fill with standard amalgam fillings or if the tooth could crack due to weakness, a dentist may choose to use an onlay filling to use the strength of the tooth along with protecting the decaying area. An onlay will allow the tooth structure to be preserved, while in contrast, a crown may require some filling or removal of cusps.