Dental inlays and onlays are restorations used to repair rear teeth with mild to moderate decay or cracked and fractured teeth that are not sufficiently damaged to need a crown. An inlay treatment is done when the tooth structure replaced is within the cusp tips of the tooth. If the damage is more extensive and the new structure covers the entire chewing surface including one or more tooth cusps, the procedure is called an onlay. During treatment the dentist removes the old fillings under local anesthesia and takes an impression of the tooth, which is sent to the dental laboratory. The new inlay or onlay is made from this mold in porcelain, gold or composite resin material. The inlay is then cemented into place at the next appointment. The inlay blends successfully with the treated tooth and the rest of the teeth to achieve a natural, uniform appearance. Each visit to the dentist for inlay or onlay treatment takes about an hour, with the first appointment taking slightly longer due to the preparation process. There will probably be a little discomfort after the inlay or onlay procedure, and the new tooth surface may feel a little odd, but you soon get used to the new tooth surface and how it feels and looks in your mouth. The tissue around the treated tooth may feel sore or sensitive, but this should subside in a couple of days. If you do feel some discomfort, you can take over-the-counter pain medication to alleviate the symptoms.
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