Inlays & Onlays

Tooth Fillings, Dental Bonding & Other Cosmetic Dentistry Procedures
in Winston-Salem, NC

When more than half of the tooth’s biting surface is damaged, a cosmetic dentist will often use an inlay or onlay to restore it.  These restorations can be made of porcelain, gold, or composite resin and are bonded to the damaged area of the tooth. An inlay, which is similar to a filling, is used inside the cusp tips of the tooth. An onlay is a more substantial reconstruction, similar to the inlay but extending out over one or more of the cusps of the tooth.

Traditionally, gold has been the material of choice for inlays and onlays. In recent years, however, porcelain has become increasingly popular with cosmetic dentistry patients due to its strength and color, which can potentially match the natural color of your teeth.

How are inlays and onlays applied?

Inlays and onlays require two appointments to complete the procedure. During the first visit, the filling being replaced or the damaged area of the tooth is removed, and the tooth is prepared for the inlay or onlay. To ensure proper fit and bite, an impression of the tooth is made by the dentist and sent to our local lab for fabrication. The dentist will then apply a temporary restoration on the tooth that will protect the area until the next appointment.

At the second appointment, the temporary restoration is removed. One of our cosmetic dentists, Dr. Pruitt, Dr. Miller, Dr. Stowe, Dr. Steinbicker, or Dr. Taylor, will then make sure that the inlay or onlay fits correctly. If the fit and color match (for our ceramic or composite restorations) is satisfactory, the inlay or onlay will be bonded to the tooth with a strong resin and polished to a smooth finish.

Considerations for our cosmetic dentistry services

Traditional fillings can reduce the strength of a natural tooth by up to 50 percent. As an alternative, inlays and onlays, which are bonded directly onto the tooth using special high-strength resins, can actually increase the strength of a tooth by up to 75 percent, making them a superior cosmetic dentistry option.  In cases where the damage to the tooth is not extensive enough to merit an entire crown, onlays can provide a very good alternative that conserves as much healthy tooth structure as possible.