An inlay or onlay restoration is a custom made filling made of composite material, gold, or tooth-colored porcelain. Porcelain inlays and onlays are popular because they look like your natural tooth. An inlay or onlay is sometimes also referred to as a partial crown. They use the existing tooth as a base and fit the inlay or onlay on the tooth. This is done to strengthen the tooth, restore its shape and prevent further damage. Inlays and onlays are made by a professional dental laboratory and are permanently cemented onto the tooth by your dentist.
Inlays and Onlays can be utilized to conservatively repair teeth that have large defective fillings or have been damaged by decay or trauma. Onlays are an ideal alternative to crowns (caps) because less tooth structure is removed in the preparation of onlays. Onlays are essentially identical to inlays with the exception that one or more of the chewing cusps have also been affected and need to be included in the restoration.