For teeth that have become damaged or decayed, inlays and onlays provide a more conservative alternative to tradition dental crowns. An inlay replaces tooth structure within the cusp tips of molars, while more extensive tooth damage can be treated and corrected with onlays which cover the entire chewing surface of the tooth.
While crowns require a large, outer portion of the damaged tooth be removed, inlays and onlays only require that the decayed parts of the tooth be drilled away. Once that task has been accomplished, a mold of the tooth is made so the inlay or onlay can be created to fit the existing tooth structure precisely. Porcelain or a composite resin is used to create the inlay or onlay in our lab. When ready, the inlay or onlay is bonded to the tooth, providing a new chewing surface and greater support for the tooth structure.
Inlays and onlays are more durable than most crowns and typically provide several decades of tooth support. They are also more aesthetically pleasing, especially as compared to metal crowns.