Many patients are unfamiliar with Inlays and onlays as a dental term, but they should know that they are a very helpful way to fix a decayed tooth while still preserving as much of the tooth as they can. A cavity can be treated in many different ways depending on the degree of the decay and the needs of the patient. Fillings are often used, but sometimes the level of decay is too large for just fillings but is not decayed enough to need a dental crown. Sitting in that happy middle ground are inlays and onlays.
Inlays and onlays are often such a perfect fit because they are one of the least destructive procedures. Crowns can lead to part of the tooth being removed while inlays and onlays can help keep as much of the tooth as possible which helps to keep proper dental health in the future.
Inlays and onlays work differently than fillings because they can replace sections of the tooth both in its appearance and its functionality. Inlays are used for the indented portion of the biting surface while onlays are used for the cusps of the teeth, which is why they are commonly referred to as partial crowns.
Each has a similar process and also requires two visits. After the decayed area is removed, an implant is made so that a customized inlay and/or onlay can be created. A temporary restoration is put in place until the finalized permanent appliances are complete. Your temps are removed, and the permanents are put in place. Your dentist makes any adjustments that are necessary, and your tooth now looks amazing and functions just like a natural tooth. Through proper oral care and hygiene, they can last for years to come.