When over 1/2 of the tooth’s biting surface is damaged a dentist will often use an inlay or onlay.
What are inlays and onlays?
Inlays and onlays can be made of porcelain, gold, or composite resin. These pieces 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.
How are they applied?
It requires two appointments to complete the procedure
During the first visit, the filling being replaced or the damaged or decaying area of the tooth is removed, and the tooth is prepared for the fixed prosthetic appliance. To ensure proper fit and bite, an impression of the tooth is made by the dentist, and sent to a lab for fabrication.
At the second appointment, the dentist will then make sure that the fixed prosthetic appliance fits correctly. If the fit is satisfactory, the fixed prosthetic appliance will be bonded to the tooth and polished to a smooth finish.