Inlays and onlays (also known as indirect fillings) can be used to restore areas of decay or damage that are too extensive to be treated with a conventional filling and can provide a less invasive, more affordable alternative to a crown. A long-lasting restorative solution, they are usually placed in teeth at the back of the mouth.
Unlike a filling, inlays and onlays are created outside the mouth from an impression taken of the tooth. An inlay is cemented within the cavity, and an onlay covers more of the tooth for when the repair needs to include one or more cusps (the points of the tooth), or fully cover the biting surface. They are made from hard-wearing materials, including porcelain and composite resin, and if appearance is not an issue, gold can be used to provide a particularly durable restoration.
Inlays and onlays are very stable restorations that fit a damaged tooth perfectly to provide superior protection and have the ability to withstand stronger chewing forces. The affected tooth requires minimal preparation and, as the inlay or onlay is tailored to fit, they can be easier to keep clean than other restorations. When properly maintained, with effective cleaning and regular check-ups, inlays and onlays can last for years.