Porcelain inlays and onlays are a very aesthetic alternatives to composite fillings. They have a high degree of strength, and as such, are excellent for restoring weakened back teeth. Inlays and onlays protect and restore large portions of decayed, heavily restored tooth, or teeth under very heavy load (i.e. back teeth). Unlike crowns, they only cover a portion of the tooth, and are therefore more conservative on the amount of tooth preparation required.
Inlays and onlays are recommended when more than half of the tooth’s biting surface is damaged. An onlay covers one or more of the cusps (bumps) of the tooth, while an inlay sits within the cusps of the tooth. Inlays and onlays can be made of porcelain, gold, or composite resin. They are fabricated in a laboratory for a precise fit and bite. Like a puzzle piece they are bonded to the damaged area of the tooth. These restorations have strength far superior to a filling and are color matched to your remaining teeth.
These restorations will last a very long time and usually prevent the need for a future crown. Traditional fillings can reduce the strength of a natural tooth by up to 50%, inlays and onlays, bonded directly onto the tooth using special high-strength resins, can actually increase the strength of a tooth by up to 75%.
Inlays and onlays are made with porcelain, customized to your natural tooth shade, and look like your natural tooth. Porcelain inlays and onlays are made from the same strong, tooth colored material that is used for crowns and bridgework. A customized shade makes them virtually undetectable. The main differences between tooth-colored composite restoration and inlay/onlays is that the latter are fabricated using a laboratory process and differing materials, thereby making them stronger and more durable.