What Are Dental Inlays and Onlays?

Dental inlays and onlays are a type of tooth-colored filling that is made out of an advanced ceramic. An inlay sits in a single surface of the tooth or, if on the top, fits completely within the cusps of the tooth. An onlay is more extensive, covering more than one surface or extending over one or more cusps of the tooth.

There are many advanced ceramic materials available. All the ones we use have good translucency to match the luster of natural teeth, and come in a variety of colors and can even be custom-dyed to provide a superb color match to your natural teeth.

The materials are also very strong, accounting for their very high success rate, as we’ll discuss below.

One-Visit Convenience

Inlays and onlays have been used in dentistry for over a hundred years, but despite their attractiveness, in the past they have been less popular because it used to be necessary to send away to a lab to have inlays and onlays made.

Now, though, CEREC technology allows us to make your inlays and onlays in a single visit. We will first remove any decay from your tooth. Then we will scan your teeth, giving us a 3D computer model to work with. Using that model, we will design your restoration. The plan is sent to our diamond mill, which will grind the restoration according to the plan. Why a diamond mill? Many of the materials we use contain aluminum oxide, which in nature occurs as the second-hardest element, corundum, which includes rubies.

Once the restoration is made, we polish it, check the fit and color match, and cement it in place. The entire procedure takes about an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the complexity of the restoration.

cute mature woman enjoying the beach

Excellent Performance

With the convenience of CEREC inlays and onlays, you might think that they’re kind of throwaway restorations, similar to the temporary crowns you might have received in the past, but you’d be wrong. Studies show that 94-95% of CEREC inlays and onlays last ten years or more, and a full 89% lasted 17 years in a long-term study.

In fact, a study comparing CEREC inlays and onlays to other filling options shows that they have the lowest failure rate of any options. Here are the seven fillings compared and their respective annual failure rates:

  • Glass ionomer fillings 7.7%
  • Amalgam 3.3%
  • Composite fillings 2.2%
  • Composite inlays/onlays 2.0%
  • Lab-produced ceramic inlays/onlays 1.6%
  • Gold inlays/onlays 1.2%
  • CEREC inlays/onlays 1.1%

With such a low failure rate and such high aesthetic values, we have no hesitation describing CEREC inlays and onlays as the best fillings available.

If you would like to learn more about the best filling option in Wilmington, NC, including dental inlays and onlays, please call (910) 392-6060 for an appointment at Kuzma Advanced Dentistry.