Most people have heard of dental fillings and dental crowns, but the majority of people are not quite familiar with options of inlays and onlays. Inlays and onlays are alternative treatment options when dental decay has caused more damage to the tooth to be restored by a simple filling and is not large enough to need a crown. Even though these options may be less familiar to the public, everyone should learn about these conservative yet versatile restorations. Inlays and onlays are custom-made dental restorations which are a great replacement for the missing tooth structure due to decay and/or fracture and can be named as a partial crown where only the broken or decayed part of the tooth is prepared and the healthy part remains intact.
At DENTONAL Dental Clinic, we perform an in-depth evaluation of each individuals’ teeth to make sure the appropriate solution is recommended to fit any patient specific needs, which may be an inlay or an onlay.
What Are Inlays And Onlays?
Inlays and onlays are similar to dental fillings in that they restore a portion of the tooth that is decayed or damaged, and they are similar to dental crowns in that they are made from a durable dental material – typically porcelain or composite resin or gold. These are custom-made after the tooth is prepared by your skilled dentist followed by dental impressions.
The Difference Between Inlays And Onlays
The key difference between inlays and onlays is how much of the tooth it covers:
- An inlay fits within the hollow of the tooth but does not affect the cusps (the pointy parts at the top of posterior teeth)
- An onlay repairs damage to the tooth cusps as well as the overall biting surface and is sometimes called a “partial crown” because it works very similarly but does not cover the entire surface of the tooth
What To Expect With Inlays And Onlays
Getting inlays or onlays normally takes two appointments. In the first appointment, we prepare your tooth by gently drilling out and disinfecting the decayed areas. Then, we take dental impressions of the tooth so that your inlay or onlay can be custom-fabricated in a laboratory, and then we place a temporary inlay or onlay on the tooth to protect it and keep you comfortable while your restoration is being made. Once your inlay or onlay is ready, you will come back into the office and we will “try it on” to ensure it has the perfect fit, making any minor adjustments needed, and then bond it onto the tooth to restore its natural shape and function and protect it from further damage or decay. The results are outstanding.