What are Inlays and Onlays?
Before we distinguish the difference between inlays and onlays, let’s define a filling. A standard filling is a basic restoration for a decayed tooth that has been drilled. The tooth is then replaced with a composite (white) or amalgam (silver) filling.
Now, an inlay is the next option, when the cavity is too large for a simple filling. Alternatively, an onlay is meant to cover a cusp of the tooth. So, it’s more than an inlay but not quite a crown. Both inlays and onlays are fabricated in a dental lab and bonded to the damaged tooth, whereas fillings are fitted and molded during your visit.
Why Consider Gold Inlays & Onlays?
Inlays or onlays are indirect restorations that are made with cast gold or porcelain. Although they are more of an investment than regular fillings, they are extremely durable and many times stronger. Since cast inlays and onlays of gold or porcelain can last for many more years than regular fillings, they are actually less of an investment in the long run. Since regular filling do not hold up as well, they need to be replaced more often causing the loss of more tooth structure each time a new filling is needed.
Many patients in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, still have gold inlays, onlays and crowns in place that were done in their 20’s and 30’s. So, there is a very good reason to consider restoring teeth very well the first time so that they hold up and last 20-30 years or more.
How Long Does It Take to Get a Gold Inlay or Only?
The whole procedure can be completed in as little as two visits to our office. On the first visit, the tooth will be prepared and impressions taken and sent to a lab where the inlay or onlay can be constructed. Patients receive a temporary inlay or onlay until the permanent piece is completed. During the initial visit, the correct color match will be determined if a porcelain restoration is planned, as well as the material that will be used to fabricate the inlay or onlay. The second visit consists of removing the temporary inlay or onlay and trying in the final restoration. It will be checked for proper accuracy and fit. The final step is to bond or cement the inlay or onlay to the tooth.