When a traditional dental filling cannot restore a decayed tooth, your dentist may opt for an inlay or onlay. This simple and common procedure helps retain the structure and appearance of a healthy tooth without the need for a full crown.
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Dental Fillings vs. Inlays and Onlays
Dental fillings are one of the most common dental procedures, and most people are familiar with them. Fillings are simple solutions to remove cavities—parts of a decayed tooth—and replace them with gold, silver, or some sort of composite. However, if a tooth’s decay has reached a point where fillings are not a viable option, inlays and onlays can be achieved instead.
Like fillings, inlays, and onlay procedures work to repair a tooth that has been decayed by removing the decayed area and replacing it. What makes inlays and onlays different than fillings then, is the area they cover—both where on the tooth and the amount of coverage they provide.
What is an Inlay?
When a cavity is too deep or large for a traditional dental filling, inlays can provide a restoration solution that can still save your natural tooth. Teeth that are broken, fractured, or decayed in the center of the tooth are candidates for inlays. Inlays are pre-molded and fit into the center affected area of the tooth and blended perfectly into the tooth’s grooves. Because inlays are made of porcelain or composite resin, it is a near invisible restoration and often stronger than a traditional filling.
What is an Onlay?
Onlays are the same procedure as inlays, but for a different area of the tooth. Rather than a tooth that needs to be filled in the center, onlays are for areas of the tooth known as the “cusps.” The cusps of the tooth are along the outer edges, so onlays literally lay on the tooth (in comparison to inlays that fill in the tooth). While inlays are a less aggressive alternative for fillings, onlays are a less intensive restoration procedure than dental crowns.
Why An Onlay and Not a Dental Crown?
You can consider an onlay somewhere between a filling and a crown. A crown is a major tooth restoration procedure that essentially replaces the exterior of your tooth in full. This is typically an option when very little of the tooth can be saved due to extensive decay or damage. The crown itself covers the entire biting surface of the tooth all the way to the gum line. Comparatively, an onlay is far less intense of tooth restoration and only covers the cusp of the tooth. The onlay’s composite material blends in right with your natural tooth.
Achieving Your Smile at Desert Dental Alternatives
Because of the amount the inlay or onlay must fill, these procedures take more than the single visit that a filling normally would. Like a filling, your dentist will numb the area with a local anesthetic and then drill out the decay of the tooth to clean it out. Then, like receiving a crown, your dentist will need to take an impression to form both the temporary and permanent inlay or onlay. You will be fixed with a temporary version while your permanent inlay or onlay is fabricated in a lab with the choice of metal, material, or composite. Your dental team will also color match to blend in with the tooth’s color, as well as the rest of your teeth, to maintain a perfect smile. On your follow-up appointment, your permanent inlay or onlay will be affixed to your tooth, and you will be provided with expert care instructions.
At Desert Dental Alternatives, we understand how important oral health is both medically and mentally. Our expert team is committed to providing you with the best information possible to ensure you have a healthy, beautiful smile and can achieve that comfortably and confidently.
For more information on dental restoration such as inlays and onlays, Call Desert Dental Alternatives today!