Inlays and Onlays: A Conservative Alternative to Crowns

Inlays and onlays are an important though little discussed component of restorative dentistry. These restorations can be ideal for a tooth with too much damage for a filling but not enough to warrant a crown. At Dr. McGibony & Associates, we use our state-of-the-art CEREC® system to create same-day inlays and onlays for our Statesboro, GA, patients. Inlays and onlays are an excellent option for patients suffering from damage or decay who wish to preserve as much healthy dental tissue as possible.

Are You a Candidate for an Inlay or Onlay?

Our dentists will often recommend an inlay or onlay for a decayed molar. Dental fillings are the most common treatment for cavities, but if your cavity is very large, a filling will not be sufficient to restore your tooth. Sometimes we also recommend inlays or onlays for a cracked tooth. Note that if the crack is particularly long, or it extends to the tooth root, your dentist will likely recommend a crown or alternative treatment.

Inlays and onlays perform virtually identical restorative functions. Inlays are suited to smaller areas of damage because they are placed between the cusps of the tooth. If you have more extensive damage, an onlay may be more appropriate. Onlays fit over the cusps and extend down the side of the tooth.

Image of dental inlays and onlays

Inlays and onlays offer a conservative alternative to crowns in teeth that require more repair than a filling provides.

What to Expect during Treatment

Before placing an inlay or onlay, your dentist will reshape your tooth, removing damaged tissue to create space for the restoration. Next, your doctor will take impressions of your tooth using our advanced CEREC® system. This technology allows your doctor to fabricate your restoration immediately. Using CEREC®-produced images, your dentist will design your inlay or onlay on a computer in your treatment room. You can watch the entire process and ask any questions you have about your restorative care.

Inlays and onlays are an excellent option for patients suffering from damage or decay who wish to preserve as much healthy dental tissue as possible.

Your dentist will then upload the custom designs for your restoration to the CEREC® machine, which will typically produce the inlay or onlay in about an hour. CEREC® fabricates restorations made of an advanced form of porcelain. This material is almost as strong as metal, and its color and luster are nearly identical to natural dental enamel. As soon as your restoration is finished, your dentist will attach it to the tooth, and you can leave the office with no downtime at home.

The Benefits of Inlays and Onlays

In many ways, inlays and onlays are similar to crowns, but they are smaller and require the removal of less tissue. Therefore, treatment is faster, simpler, and reduces discomfort. One advantage of inlays and onlays is that this type of restoration allows your dentist to preserve most of your tooth. Though restorative materials are quite durable, it is always optimal to preserve maximum natural dental tissue. Your inlays and onlays will strengthen your teeth by repairing damage and decay, restoring your bite, and preventing future dental damage.

Contact Us for an Appointment

To find out if you are a candidate for an inlay or onlay, contact our office today. Our team is committed to restoring the health of your smile.