Inlays and onlays are dental treatments for teeth that are moderately decayed, damaged, chipped or cracked. Unlike fillings, which are molded into a cavity, inlays and onlays are prosthetic partial teeth that are fabricated in a dental lab to fit precisely into the space left by the missing portion of the tooth.
Inlays and onlays – What’s the difference?
They are very similar but each has a specific purpose. Inlays are designed to fit where traditional fillings usually go – the space within the cusps of a tooth. If one or more of the cusps are damaged or missing, then an onlay is more suitable. Onlays are a little bigger and cover more of your tooth’s surface. They can fit within and over any outer cusps that have broken off as a result of damage or decay.
The conservative approach
Why are inlays and onlays considered to be a conservative alternative to tooth restoration? They only restore the part of a tooth that is actually damaged.
If you were to opt for a full-coverage crown to restore the same tooth, more invasive procedures are needed to prepare the tooth for a crown. That means you may sacrifice perfectly healthy tooth structure to accommodate the crown. So in that sense, inlay and onlay treatment is a conservative approach, since it preserves as much of your natural tooth structure as possible during prep.
What are the benefits of inlays/onlays?
- Seal teeth better than fillings
- Fit perfectly
- Strong, durable and stable
- Protect and support weaker parts of a tooth
- Preserve more of your natural tooth structure for better long-term functionality
- Easier to clean for better oral care
- Colour-matched with surrounding tooth enamel
- Stain resistant, and better colour retention than tooth-coloured fillings
- More cost effective than other tooth restoration options
If you have a tooth that is decayed and damaged, inlays and onlays may be the perfect solution. Call us on 07 3349 9334 to schedule a visit before your tooth gets damaged any further!