A tooth can be infected by bacteria so that significant tooth structure is lost due to decay. Depending on the severity of the disease progression, a tooth in this condition will be prescribed with an appropriate restoration. Restorative Dentistry is a field in Dentistry that governs all methods and techniques concerned with the restoration of tooth structure that have been fractured, cracked, chipped or damaged. To restore the aesthetic and function of the mouth, the dentist employs various techniques to bring things back to normal.

Inlays and Onlays are examples of restorative procedures. Compared to traditional fillings, after the tooth preparation the filling is not immediately placed directly onto the tooth. A dental impression is taken so that a cast can be constructed with it. This cast is then used so that a filling can be fabricated in the laboratory, outside of the patient’s mouth. In other words, inlays and onlays are indirect fillings that are created outside of the patients’ mouth to be cemented permanently onto the tooth.

Inlays and onlays may be made with ceramic, composite resin or porcelain. An inlay is an indirect restoration where the margins of the filling material are bound completely by the tooth structure. All walls are intact so the filling is limited to the central fossa. An onlay is a more extensive classification of an indirect filling where the margins extend to involve one or more of the walls of the tooth.

At first glance, inlays and onlays are just like any other fiilling but given their properties, they can be indicated for the following cases:

– Large cavities where not enough tooth structure where retention cannot be relied on with a traditional filling. In traditional restorations, some cavity preparations may leave very little healthy tooth preparation so that retention is highly compromised. With this, what you get is a filling that gets dislodged often. An indirect filling is going to be a better option as a restoration. The retentive property afforded by the cement or adhesive prevents dislodgment.

– Patients who require faster dental appointments. The fabrication of inlays and onlays are not exactly fast, but they are definitely faster than traditional fillings. It involves multiple appointments, so you will have to go back for the installation, but chairtime is significantly cut down because the fillings are not done inside the mouth.

– High aesthetic requirement. Due to the method in which inlays and onlays are fabricated, dentists and technicians can put focus on detail and aesthetics. The material used are tooth-colored, and therefore able to match the natural color of the teeth. With the technique and artistry involved in the fabrication of inlays and onlays, you can trust that restoration will be truly aesthetically pleasing.

– Improve strength and longevity of dental restoration. Traditional fillings are good enough but in terms of strength, it will not compare with a ceramic especially with a porcelain filling. If you are looking to invest on a dental restoration that is going to last you a longer time, indirect fillings are a good choice.

If you present with any of those mentioned above, maybe the best option for you are inlays and onlays.