Inlays and onlays are dental restorations that, in certain cases, are a conservative alternative to full coverage dental crowns. Also known as indirect fillings, inlays and onlays offer a well-fitting, stronger, longer lasting reparative solution to tooth decay or similar damage. These restorations are beneficial from both an esthetic and functional point of view. Inlays and onlays can often be used in place of traditional dental fillings to treat tooth decay or structural damage. Dental fillings are molded into place within the mouth during a dental visit, while inlays and onlays are fabricated indirectly in a dental lab before being fitted and bonded to the damaged tooth by your dentist.
The restoration is dubbed an “inlay” when the material is bonded within the center of a tooth. Conversely, the restoration is dubbed an “onlay” when the extent of the damage requires inclusion of one or more cusps (points) of the tooth or full coverage of the biting surface.