Some types of dental damage can be catastrophic – for instance, if you take a brick to the mouth, you can bet that you’re looking at very serious, very expensive restoration. However, if you have mild to moderate damage, inlays and onlays can be a perfectly viable treatment. So, what are they exactly? Michael Roessler DDS in the Mundelein, IL area can tell you why:


Inlays and onlays are both a type of tooth-colored restorations made from either porcelain or a composite resin, which can be colored to match your surrounding teeth. They can be used to correct decay, or to replace old, worn metal fillings. Now, of course, you’re wondering what the difference is between an inlay and an onlay. It’s not all that complicated. An inlay is used to treat decay when it occurs in the cusps of the teeth, which are the protrusions that you feel when you run your tongue across your molars (back teeth). An onlay, on the other hand, is used to correct severe decay that occurs across several cusps.  Although inlays and onlays differ a bit from one another, the basic procedure for installing them is the same. Whether it’s an inlay or an onlay, it’s created to match the color of your natural teeth, and to fit perfectly on the damaged area.


To fit an inlay or an onlay, your dentist cleans up the affected area, removes any portions of the tooth that are severely damaged, and then makes an impression of your teeth that will be used to manufacture the restoration. You’ll be given a temporary restoration while the permanent one is being created, and once it’s ready, the temporary restoration will be removed and the permanent one installed using a special type of dental cement. In this way, the appearance and the full function of your tooth are restored.


Inlays and onlays last a long time – usually more than ten years, assuming that you care for them with regular brushing, flossing and checkups, the same way you would with your natural teeth. You don’t have to worry about discoloration the way you would with silver fillings. In short, your smile can be restored and your teeth can be fully functional once more with the installation of inlays and/or onlays. Additionally, inlays and onlays can protect your teeth and minimize the possibility of decay that could cause the need for additional treatments down the road.


If you are experiencing tooth decay and destruction, contact your dentist today to learn if inlays and onlays are the restoration plan for you.