A dental restoration is called a dental inlay when the material is bonded within the center of a tooth. Conversely, it is called a dental onlay when the extent of the dental damage requires inclusion of one or more cusps (points) of the tooth, or full coverage of the biting surface.
Dental onlays can often be used instead of traditional dental fillings to treat tooth decay or similar structural damage. While dental fillings are molded into place within the mouth during a visit with your dentist, dental onlays are fabricated in a dental lab; your dentist then fits and bonds it to the damaged tooth.
There are quite a few advantages to dental onlays:
- Superior fit: onlays preserve as much healthy tooth as possible. They are a good choice if you have minimal to moderate tooth decay that extends into a flossing area; they offer an excellent alternative to full coverage crowns.
- Tooth color: Onlays are not likely to discolor over time, as tooth-colored resin fillings sometimes do
- Helping to ensure functional longevity, onlay restorations preserve the greatest amount of healthy tooth structure while restoring decayed or damaged areas.
- Easy tooth cleaning: Your tooth can be easier to clean than it would be with full coverage restoratives like dental crowns, because the fit is tailored at all edges and the preparation is minimal. During the curing process, composite fillings can shrink; prefabricated porcelain or gold onlays will not, thus ensuring a perfect fit.
- Tight space fulfillments: Onlays are better at sealing teeth to keep out bacteria, and they are easy to clean, will not stain, and offer exceptional longevity.
- Strength and stability: Onlays are extremely stable solutions for the treatment of decay. Their superior fit and durable material make onlays a great choice that can actually strengthen a damaged tooth.
- Weak Tooth Protector: An onlay can protect the weak areas of the tooth. The procedure does not require the complete reshaping of the tooth.