Inlays or onlays are indirect fillings made of porcelain or composite that fit into or onto a tooth. Its purpose is to make the tooth stronger by reinforcing it, together while retaining a natural, aesthetically pleasing colour. They are used in instances when there is not enough tooth structure to support a filling and onlays can often protect the cusps of the remaining tooth from splaying and fracturing.
The new Emax porcelain is 2-3 times stronger than traditional feldspathic porcelain inlay/onlays. Zirconia is another material that is recently introduced to the dental market that is available at the surgery due to its increased strength. Composite is a cheaper alternative to porcelain and zirconia but cannot always provide the same mechanical strength or aesthetic results.
The treatment process
Inlays and onlays are similar to regular fillings with the exception being that they are permanently cemented by the dentist and are made in a dental lab as opposed to being moulded to shape in one’s mouth. This allows for sometimes greater control and adaptation to achieve perfect contacts and less food packing.
The procedure takes 2 visits with one of our dentists. In the first visit, the decay of an old filling or cavity is removed and the tooth shaped to receive the restoration, then an impression is taken. This impression is used by a dental laboratory to create the indirect filling and records the shape of the damaged tooth and the surrounding teeth. While the inlay is being made, the patient is given a temporary filling to protect the damaged tooth. During the second visit, this temporary filling is removed and the indirect filling is fitted. If the fit is acceptable, it is then permanently cemented into place.
Treatment usually takes 2-3 weeks.