Dental inlays and onlays are used to help restore and repair teeth with mild to moderate decay. They can also be used for cracked or fractured teeth that do not require the use of a dental crown. Inlays and onlays are ideal for patients with too much decay or damage for a traditional filling, but enough remaining tooth to avoid the need for a crown. Unlike dental crowns, inlays and onlays do not require a complete reshaping of your tooth. They are a more conservative alternative that can be beneficial both aesthetically and functionally. By preserving more of the original tooth, we can help increase tooth life and prevent the need for future dental treatment.
What is the difference between an Inlay and Onlay?
Inlays and onlays are also known as indirect restorations. This means that the restoration is fabricated outside of the mouth using an impression of the tooth. Indirect restorations can be made of several materials (including gold), but many patients prefer the more natural look that ceramic provides. We call a restoration an inlay when it is bonded within the center of the tooth. An onlay is the same as an inlay, but extends over one or more cusps (points), sometimes covering the entire bite surface of the tooth.
Inlay and Onlay procedures
Dental inlays and onlays usually require two visits. During your first visit, we will prepare the tooth by removing any decay and taking a molded impression. This molded impression will be sent to the dental laboratory where a final restoration will be made. In many cases, we will create a provisional (temporary) restoration to help protect the tooth in between visits. During your second visit, we will remove the temporary and place the final restoration. We will check to make sure there are a smooth fit and no issues with your bite. Once it is properly fitted, we will bond it to the tooth and polish the margins. If aesthetics are not an issue, gold may be the best option to consider. Otherwise, we will use porcelain or ceramic materials to match the existing color of your tooth.
Benefits of Inlays and Onlays
Depending on the material, indirect restorations are unlikely to discolor over time. They are better at sealing out bacteria than a direct filling, which makes them ideal for cavities located between your teeth. They protect the tooth from future damage, and strengthen it by up to 75%, compared to traditional fillings. They provide strength and stability thanks to durable materials and a superior fit. The superior fit also allows for easier tooth cleaning. Full coverage restorations like dental crowns can be hard to clean. Composite fillings can shrink during the curing process, making them harder to clean as well. Because indirect restorations are fabricated outside of the mouth, we can ensure a precise fit that provides conservative coverage and does not shrink.
Contact Us About Inlays and Onlays
If you have any questions or concerns regarding indirect restorations, contact us at (503) 546-9079 and schedule your consultation visit today!