Inlays and Onlays
When a large portion of a tooth’s biting surface is damaged, an Inlay or onlays are often recommended as a treatment. Inlays and onlays are pieces of material that are permanently bonded to a tooth to replace a damaged portion. Often made of porcelain, gold or composite resin, inlays are similar to a filling, but are prepared in a lab and then bonded onto the tooth to provide the strength that was lost by the tooth. An onlay is basically the same as an Inlay but replaces most of the biting surface of the tooth.
Gold is the traditional choice of material for inlays or onlays, although porcelain has become increasingly popular since it can closely match the natural colour of your teeth and is very strong. One other advantage of porcelain is that it can be bonded to the tooth.
Traditional fillings can reduce the strength of a natural tooth by up to 50%. As an alternative, inlays and onlays, being bonded directly onto the tooth using special high-strength resins, can actually increase the strength of a tooth by up to 75%. As a result, they can last from 10-30 years. In some cases, where the damage to the tooth is not extensive enough to merit an entire crown, onlays can provide a very good alternative.