Inlays and onlays are types of dental restorations that can offer a more conservative approach to alternatives like dental crowns. Sometimes called indirect fillings, inlays and onlays provide both a functional and cosmetic solution to damaged teeth. They can be made from materials like composite resin, metal or porcelain.
In some cases, inlays and onlays are used for the treatment of tooth decay and structural damage instead of traditional dental fillings.
Types of Restorations
Fillings: The most basic type of dental restoration, involving drilling out the tooth decay and replacing it with an amalgam or composite filling material.
Inlay: Your dentist can use an inlay if a simple filling will not work because the cavity is too large. They would create an inlay and cement it onto your tooth.
Onlay: Onlays are more similar to inlays and less like dental crowns. They are created as a single piece to cover a tooth cusp.
Dental crown: Crowns are used to correct serious dental issues. They are a type of “cap” fitted over treated teeth after the removal of existing tooth decay.
Dental implants: Implants are a permanent type of restoration that replaces both the aesthetics and function of a natural tooth.
Fillings vs. Inlays
Both types of restorations are sometimes interchangeably used; however, inlays are used for larger cavities. The way that they are different is how they fill the empty space. Fillings are applied directly into the tooth during a single visit. With an inlay, a single piece is manufactured in a dental lab. The inlay is created to exactly match the size and shape of the cavity space.
Onlays vs. Dental Crowns
Both restorations are used to fill large areas of decay that are inappropriate for inlays. Onlays cover the tooth cusp, while crowns cover the entire chewing surface of the tooth above the gumline.
Inlays and Onlays Procedure
The procedure varies somewhat, depending upon whether you are receiving an inlay or onlay, but this is what you can generally expect:
Your dentist will use a local anesthetic to numb your treated tooth. They will drill out all tooth decay. Next, they will file down treated teeth in preparation for receiving an inlay or onlay.
Your dentist will create a mold, or impression, of your tooth. This mold is used for the creation of your customized inlay or onlay.
Once your inlay or onlay is ready, your dentist will permanently bond it onto your treated tooth using dental cement. Finally, they will smooth and polish it so that there are no rough edges, and you have a comfortable bite.
If you feel that you would benefit from a dental inlay or onlay, or would like to further explore your treatment options, please contact us to schedule your convenient consultation.