What Are Dental Inlays and Onlays?

Dental Inlays and onlays

Preserving teeth is a constant task for everyone: brushing, flossing, avoiding food that can cause damage to the teeth and visiting your dentist are vital aspects of this process. However, despite the attention we give to our oral hygiene, teeth often suffer and get damaged in such a manner that further attention is required.

What are inlays and onlays in dental work?

setting up a dental onlay

Dental inlays and onlays in today’s praxis are tools used to restore the function and the look of the teeth. When you visit the dentist, tooth decay, fractures, and cracks on the teeth are always a cause for intervention. These smaller types of damage can mostly be resolved with the use of dental fillings.

More intensely damaged teeth are typically fixed with a dental crown. Severely worn down, badly cracked and extensively damaged teeth can only be fixed this way. The crown is typically made of porcelain and chosen from a palette to match the patient’s teeth coloring.

When the damage to your teeth cannot be fixed with a filling, and yet it’s not as severe for a dental crown, dental inlays and onlays can be used. Inlays and onlays fall in the category of ‘’indirect’’ fillings, prepared outside of the patient’s mouth and then applied to the teeth by the dentist. 

Inlay vs onlay

Both inlays and onlays are cemented onto the tooth, implementation methodology is completely the same. Gold was formerly used, but today’s materials (ceramic, porcelain) and special dental composites allow dentists to mimic the teeth color.

The major difference between them is the surface they encompass: Inlays fit within the points of the teeth called cusps and onlays cover one or more of these cusps and sometimes even the chewing surface of the tooth. While dental crowns cover the whole of the chewing surface, onlays are not that extensive.

How do inlays and onlays work?

With both inlays and onlays, the dentist will have to prepare the tooth. The benefits of the procedure compared to a dental crown are related to the fact that less of the natural tooth structure is removed. The main goal is the preservation of the natural form, which is why dentists will be able to recognize when to opt for inlays or onlays, and when to prepare the dental crown.

The procedure begins with the local anesthetic and treatment of decay. Leaving the decay below the cover of any type can cause serious damage and progression of the infection, which is why failing to remove it could cause terrible consequences.

The next step is an impression of the affected tooth, based on which the model of it will be created. Impressions can be taken either with the special putty or digitally.

Inlay or onlay restoration is then produced with the selected material, typically ceramic. After the first visit, you will get the temporary filling, which aims to protect the teeth before the final round. 

Lastly, the dentist will attach the inlay/onlay either with the use of a permanent dental cement or special resin that is hardened when exposed to a special light source. 

Inlays and onlays are durable, lasting and teeth-preserving options for patients, ensuring full functionality and do not require any additional treatment compared to other healthy teeth. Brushing, flossing and enjoying your favorite meals will be the same as before.

Our professionals at Doral Sedation & Family Dentistry aim at keeping every healthy part of the teeth intact and we can quite precisely tell when to go for the inlays and when the dental crown has to be placed. Call us if you have similar concerns, and schedule your appointment

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