What are Inlays and Onlays?
Some teeth are damaged to the point that they cannot be treated with a mere filling. However, the damage might not be extensive enough to justify the use of a crown. In such cases, an inlay or onlay will prove optimal for tooth restoration. Inlays and onlays are indirect fillings. This means both are fabricated far away from the patient, typically in a dental lab. The inlay or onlay is then bonded directly to the tooth in a subsequent visit. Below, we delve into the specifics of dental inlays and onlays to help patients determine if either will improve their oral health, beauty, and functionality.
The Primary Difference Between Inlays and Onlays
Dental inlays and onlays1 are fairly similar. However, there is one important difference between the two worth noting. Dental inlays are indirect fillings that fit with the diminutive points of the back teeth. These points are also referred to as cusps. Inlays are added to premolar or molar teeth.
Alternatively, dental onlays are indirect fillings that cover one or several such points or cusps. Regardless of whether your unique mouth can benefit from an inlay or an onlay, the procedure used to place one or the other is exactly the same. If you have one or several damaged teeth, meet with our dentist as soon as possible to determine if you are a candidate for a dental inlay or onlay.
The Magic of Inlays and Onlays
The addition of an inlay or onlay is similar to the placement of a crown. However, there is an important distinction of note: the dentist does not have to remove as much of the natural tooth structure through drilling. When a crown is added, the tooth must be significantly reshaped so it fits within the new covering. The overarching aim is to save the vast majority of the tooth structure. The dentist might determine the use of an inlay or onlay is better than a crown as this conservative approach allows for tooth restoration.
How Inlays and Onlays are Added to the Mouth
The initial step in adding an inlay or onlay to the mouth is the use of a numbing agent. The tooth and neighboring areas are numbed with a local anesthetic. The dentist proceeds to remove the decay so it does not progress even deeper. Once the tooth is prepared, the dentist will make an impression either in a digital manner or with a material similar to putty. The impression is subsequently sent to a dental lab. The dental technicians in the lab use the impression of your mouth to make a model of the tooth that will receive the inlay or onlay.
The dentist will attach a temporary filling to the tooth in question. This temporary filling serves the purpose of protecting the tooth while you wait for the permanent restoration. Once this permanent inlay or onlay is ready, you will return to the dentist office. The dentist will attach the inlay/onlay to the tooth with a permanent cement or resin that hardens when subjected to a special light.
The Merits of Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and onlays are favored by patients and dentists as they stand the test of time. These strong dental restorations do not require any more care than regular teeth. Make the commitment to daily flossing and brushing along with professional cleanings at the dentist's office every six months and you will have done your part to preserve your inlays/onlays. It is possible for well-made inlays and onlays to last upwards of 30 years.
Dentists far and wide also favor dental inlays and onlays to metal fillings as inlays/onlays bolster tooth strength by upwards of 75 percent. This is a sharp contrast to conventional metal fillings that diminish tooth strength by 50 percent. Dental inlays and onlays ultimately extend tooth life, preventing the need for additional time at the dentist's office in the months and years to come. In the end, the addition of dental inlays/onlays strengthens the teeth for quite the extended period of time while minimizing the amount of time you have to spend in the dentist's chair.
The Ideal Candidates for Dental Inlays and Onlays
Meet with our dentists for a thorough evaluation of your damaged tooth and overarching oral health. We will asses the damage to determine if you are a good candidate for inlays, onlays or another restoration. The optimal candidate for a dental inlay or onlay is someone who has a damaged tooth that is decayed or otherwise compromised to the point that a filling cannot be used. If there is enough healthy tooth to prevent the need for the addition of a crown, a dental inlay or onlay can be added to conserve as much of the tooth structure as possible.
Should Patients Worry About Inlays/Onlays Being Replaced by a new Dental Technology?
In short, no! Dental industry insiders agree inlays and onlays will likely be used for at least a decade or more. Patients should have absolutely no fear of their dental inlays or inlays become antiquated dental technology. There is no superior solution coming through the dental tech pipeline any time soon.
Though the materials used to make dental inlays and onlays will continue to improve as time progresses, they will likely be used by dentists across the globe for years or even decades into the future. You can spend on dental inlays or onlays in full confidence knowing this dental restoration will improve dental functionality, enhance your smile and ultimately serve you well across posterity.
Schedule Your Appointment at Universal Smiles Dentistry
If you need an inlay, onlay, another dental restoration or a comprehensive exam and cleaning, you have come to the right place. Our Orange City office2 is awaiting your call. Give us a ring at (386) 775-9933 to schedule your appointment. Edgewater residents3 can reach us at (386) 423-3652 to find out more about dental inlays/onlays and schedule a cleaning. You can also set up your initial consultation on the web with our convenient online contact form.