Inlays and onlays, or partial crowns, are so called because a full crown is not needed to restore the damage or decay that has affected the tooth. This service is for cases in which a tooth has decay, but the decay has not destroyed all of the healthy enamel of the tooth. The inlay or onlay acts as the missing part of the tooth and is fitted and placed to complete the naturally-grown tooth.
Typically, inlays are used when minimal damage or decay has occurred, and onlays are required when the damage or decay becomes more significant. Either way, the material that is used to fill the damaged or decayed area can be made to appear like natural teeth. This way, your tooth will look and feel like no damage or decay ever existed.
The procedure is very similar to the crown procedure. As in the procedure for the crown, 2-3 visits may be needed to ensure optimal fitting and functionality of the restoration.
Once an inlay/onlay has been decided on as the best option for you, the procedure will begin with a thorough cleaning and a removal of all decay. Once your tooth is clean, an impression will be made. The impression will be sent to a dental laboratory where an individually crafted partial crown will be customized to fit your particular tooth. During this time, you will be provided a temporary partial crown to secure optimal comfort between visits.
After the partial crown is ready, it can be placed to provide final restoration. After the fitting is made and completed in the most comfortable and natural-feeling way, your inlay/onlay will be cemented and finalized.
On occasion a third visit may be necessary to ensure the fitting and cement. Once the inlay/onlay is finalized, it will provide you with the feel and appearance of one of your naturally grown teeth. You will have full functionality restored. If proper hygiene is practiced and if regularly scheduled dental visits are attended, the inlay/onlay will have a long lifetime. If neglected, you may need to return to our practice to repair damage made to your restoration.