When a tooth is destroyed by a dental cavity or an infection, it will need to be restored. Leaving the tooth will only encourage infection to spread so that the tooth may be lost. When a problem arises, a restorative filling should immediately be given to the tooth to clean its surface and then seal it appropriately.

When a traditional filling is no longer the ideal solution for a tooth decay because retention is compromised and aesthetics is a high priority, inlays and onlays may be provided to the tooth instead. Inlays and onlays are indirect restorations that are fabricated outside of the mouth. After the tooth preparation, a dental impression is taken so that a cast may be produced from it. On the cast, outside of the patient’s mouth, the inlays are fabricated by the dentist or the trained technician, using an appropriate dental material. The inlays and onlays may be fabricated using different materials. Depending on the patient’s budget and priorities, a material is chosen, so that the restoration can be fabricated and then cemented permanently on the tooth upon completion. The following are some of the materials commonly used; their features and benefits discussed:

Porcelain Inlays and Onlays

  • Porcelain inlays and onlays make very good restorative options because of two things: superb aesthetics and incomparable durability. Porcelain is able to be made in various shades so that it can match the natural color of the tooth and it is of strength that is reliably durable to withstand normal forces of mastication.
  • One issue about the fabrication of porcelain is that significant thickness should be afforded to it for it to be strong. This means that more tooth reduction may be required for one to enjoy true strength, retention and durability.

Ceramic Inlays and Onlays

  • Ceramic inlays and onlays are highly aesthetic and probably more superior than porcelain. The results are superb because the color of the restoration can matched to the natural color of the tooth structure. Ceramic comes in different shades and these shades may be blended together, to give a truly aesthetic end-product.
  • One of the best features of ceramic inlays and onlays is that they are available through the CAD CAM CEREC technology. This technology permits the same-day fabrication of dental prosthesis. The digital technology makes use of the computer for the design and fabrication of inlays and onlays, so no wait is needed for you to enjoy your restoration.
  • One problem about ceramic restorations will be durability. Ceramic is a little more fragile and brittle compared to porcelain so it may not be able to endure stronger forces of mastication. They are therefore best for anterior restorations rather than for the posterior teeth

Composite Inlays and Onlays

  • Composite may also be used for inlays and onlays. This does not require laboratory fabrication. In fact, the whole thing can be completed by the dentist, while the patient waits.
  • Given that a composite resin is used for the fabrication, expect for it to be weak compared to porcelain or ceramic. The most significant thing about it is that it is more affordable compared to the other options, but more reliable compared to traditional fillings.