What are inlays and onlays?
Inlays are, in layman’s terms, a filling that is fabricated outside of the mouth and then cemented in place. Statistically, an inlay will last much longer than a filling. Because inlays are fabricated outside of the mouth, they are more stable long term. One of the issues associated with all fillings is polymerization shrinkage. All filling material upon setting shrinks and can contribute to marginal leakage. The larger the filling, the more of this we can expect. This is one of the biggest advantages of inlays, onlays, and crowns; the outside-of-mouth fabrication creates a stable material that does not shrink in the mouth. Inlays are a superior way to place a “filling” like restoration. Inlays are more time consuming and compare to a crown in price. Please ask your doctor if you are interested in this.
Onlays are sometimes referred to as a ¾ crown. Instead of covering your entire tooth or all of your cusps with a crown, sometimes it is advantageous to conserve tooth structure and place an onlay instead of a full crown. Whenever we feel it is advantageous for you to receive an onlay instead of a crown we will do this for you. We will always try to preserve tooth structure for you, and provide you with a restoration that strengthens your tooth. Most teeth that need crowns end up getting full coverage, but there are definitely exceptions of teeth that benefit from less coverage and conserved tooth structure.