What are Dental Inlays and Onlays?
Dental inlays and onlays are restorations used to repair rear teeth that have a mild to moderate amount of decay. They can also be used to restore teeth that are cracked or fractured if the damage is not severe enough to require a dental crown. Inlays and onlays are usually made from porcelain, composite resin, and sometimes even from gold. Because they can be created from tooth-colored materials, inlays and onlays are often used to replace metal fillings for patients who desire a more natural looking smile.
Dental inlays are used to treat teeth that have decay or damage lying within their indented top surfaces. They can also be used to replace old or damaged metal fillings. Inlay placement is usually carried out over two appointments. During your first visit to the dentist, an impression of your tooth will be taken, and a temporary inlay will be placed over the tooth. The dentist will send the impression off to a dental lab, which will create the inlay to match your tooth’s specifications. When you return to the dentist’s office, the temporary inlay will be removed and the permanent one will be placed carefully over your tooth.There is no downtime after receiving a dental inlay, only a mild level of tenderness in the treated area, so you can return to work or other activities as soon as you leave the office.
Onlays are used to treat decay that extends to one or more of the cusps. These are placed in much the same way as inlays. First, an impression of the decayed tooth is taken, and a temporary onlay is placed over the tooth. The impression is then sent to a lab, where a dental technician creates the onlay according to the tooth’s dimensions. When the patient returns to the dentist’s office, the temporary onlay is removed, and the permanent restoration is placed on the tooth and securely bonded using high-strength dental resins.
Benefits of Dental Inlays and Onlays
- Increase the strength of a tooth with respect to fillings
- Alternative to an crown when teeth damage is not extensive
- Porcelain inlays/onlays does not change color over time
- Gives better esthetic appearance compared amalgam fillings