For a tooth with slight decay, an inlay or onlay restoration can be used instead of a filling. Similar to a crown but smaller, inlays and onlays are made of a more durable material than fillings and are custom made for you at a dental lab. Inlays are used when just the valley of a tooth, called fossa, is decayed. Onlays are used when one or more cusps are affected. In this example, you can see that the decay is through the tooth’s enamel and dentin layers but not all the way to the pulp chamber. Since the decay affects one of the cusps, this tooth will be restored with an onlay. In preparation for the onlay, the decay is removed from the tooth. Once the tooth is prepared, impression are taken then used to model the exact shape required for the restoration. A shade guide is used to determine the color of your surrounding teeth. This will ensure the onlay looks natural in your mouth. A temporary filling is then placed on your prepared tooth until your next appointment. Meanwhile, your impressions are sent to a dental lab where your onlay restoration is custom made to be the ideal shape and color for your mouth. A second appointment will be scheduled when the onlay is ready. At this appointment, the temporary filling is removed so that your restoration can be cemented in place. Inlays and onlays are excellent ways to restore a decayed tooth as they are strong and durable while looking great and feeling natural in your mouth.