An inlay and onlay is a restorative treatment that is similar to a large filling, but is made of gold, titanium, or porcelain rather than plastic resin or silver. While fillings are fit and molded in the tooth during the visit, inlays/onlays are created in a lab after an impression is taken and later bonded to the damaged tooth. It is typically a two-step procedure requiring two appointments.
As with an ordinary dental filling, the first step in receiving an inlay/onlay is to remove the decayed or damaged portion of the tooth. The dentist applies local anesthetic to the area surrounding the decayed tooth first, and then removes the least amount of tooth structure as possible to complete the restoration. Before the final restoration is bonded, the dentist will ensure a proper fit that won’t interfere with bite alignment.
There are many benefits to opting for an inlay/onlay. They tend to be a more conservative approach that preserves as much of the tooth as possible. If the cavity is located in between teeth, an inlay is a wise choice due to the fact that they are better at sealing the teeth and keeping out future bacteria. Inlays and onlays are easier to clean because of the tailored fit and will not stain or discolor unlike resin fillings occasionally do.