Inlays and onlays are special dental attachments that are designed to minimize damage and also for shape restoration of a damaged tooth. They can be considered as partial crowns that are typically fitted on the tooth in order to strengthen a tooth. Inlays and onlays are always fitted onto existing teeth.
An inlay is recommended when the cusp of a damaged tooth is left intact and consequently, inlays can be fitted on the tooth. Inlays are the recommended option when the damage level to the tooth is more extensive.
The process begins with your dentist removing the decayed or damaged part of your tooth and then making a dental mold to send to the dental laboratory. A permanent inlay takes about 2 to 3 weeks for the lab to create, so patients are typically fitted a temporary inlay or onlay during this time.
Once your permanent inlays are ready, you have to make a follow-up appointment with your dentist and have them fitted. Inlays and onlays are made of a durable, strong material such as gold, composite resin or porcelain. The inlay is set with dental cement that hardens to hold the inlay firmly in place. Well-designed and expertly fitted inlays and onlays are identical to real teeth and not noticeable when you talk or smile.