Inlays or onlays can become necessary to restore the cusp, or chewing surface, of decayed or fractured teeth. Usually made from gold or porcelain, inlays are used for minor restorations within the remaining tooth structure; onlays are used for more advanced decay and cover a greater restored area.
An inlay/onlay procedure is done in two parts:
During the first session, the decayed area will be removed, the tooth will be thoroughly cleaned, and the exposed pulp area is covered with filler. At this session, a mold will be taken of the tooth to create an exact fit, which will prevent further decay or fracture.
When you return for the next session, we will have ready the inlay/onlay made from your mold, and it will be secured to the tooth.
Gold traditionally has been used for inlays and onlays because of its ability to be molded onto the tooth in a way that ensures minimal chance of additional decay. However, advances are such that the same effect can be had with porcelain materials, which are custom-made to match the exact color of the existing tooth.