What are dental inlays and onlays? How are inlays and onlays different from fillings or dental crowns?
Dental inlays and onlays are used to replace a small amount of tooth structure that is lost or must be removed due to decay or damage. Often they are indicated for larger cavities or restoration procedures.
An inlay is similar to a traditional filling in that it involves drilling away the decayed area and replacing it. However, while a filling is created by placing a composite filling material into the cavity and curing it, an inlay is actually created from a single, solid piece of porcelain. The inlay is custom-designed in the laboratory to fit your tooth and cavity and then bonded into place.
An inlay sits in the area between the cusps, or points, of your tooth. In contrast, an onlay extends to cover one or more of the cusps on the chewing surface of your tooth, as needed for larger areas of damage or decay. Onlays are also made from a single, solid piece and are custom-fabricated to the size, shape and even color of your natural tooth.
How can inlays and onlays help my smile?
Inlays and onlays will restore the function and strength of your damaged teeth. Think of them as an investment in your smile for years to come!
Custom porcelain inlays often look more natural than composite fillings. Onlays are often a great alternative to a
porcelain crown because they can preserve more of your tooth structure. Both inlays and onlays can protect against
future fractures, especially in the case of large cavities.
What can I expect from a dental inlay or onlay procedure?
Because dental inlays and onlays are custom-fabricated by a lab technician, the procedure usually takes place over two office visits.
At your first visit, Dr. Johnston will fully examine and clean the affected tooth, then remove any damage or tooth decay. She will scan the area to create an accurate 3D model of your teeth, which will be sent to the lab to create the inlay or onlay to fit your needs. Dr. Johnston will apply a temporary filling to protect the tooth while you wait for your next appointment.
On your return visit, the custom inlay or onlay will be fitted to your tooth and then permanently bonded to complete the restoration.