Inlays and onlays are indirect restorations because the restoration is fabricated outside of the mouth, instead of being built in layers directly into the teeth like a filling. Impressions are taken of the teeth and then the restoration is shaped to match the part of the tooth it will replace. The restoration is attached with dental cement.
An indirect restoration is an inlay if it covers part of a tooth, without extending to a cusp (pointed tip of tooth). If the restoration extends to replace a tooth’s cusp it is an onlay.
Inlay and onlay restorations are more effective than fillings in reinforcing teeth to withstand biting forces, and more resistant to further decay. If a tooth’s original structure is too compromised to support a filling, these indirect restorations can provide fantastic, long-lasting, beautiful results.