Inlays & Onlays
Tooth decay can be addressed in a variety of ways. Depending on the severity of it, we may advise fillings. However, for more severe tooth decay, a crown may be required. What about tooth decay that is more advanced than what can be corrected by a filling, but has not progressed enough to justify a crown? That is where dental inlays and onlays are extremely beneficial. They can treat areas of tooth decay that may not respond as well to fillings or crowns.
When we here at Summercrest Dental meet a patient in our exam chair who has tooth decay, we will discuss their treatment options with them and work with them to determine if they may be a good candidate for a dental inlay or onlay.
What are Dental Inlays and Onlays and What Do They Do?
Dental inlays and onlays are often also called “indirect fillings” because, unlike conventional fillings, they are manufactured outside of your mouth. We typically create them in our lab, then place them onto the affected site instead of drilling and placing amalgam or porcelain directly onto your tooth like we would with a normal filling. When your teeth have more severe tooth decay but are not quite ready for a crown, we will recommend an inlay or an onlay.
Dental inlays and onlays can be made from a variety of materials. Popular materials include gold, porcelain, or composite resin. The type of material that we use will be largely dependent upon the location where we will place the inlay or the onlay. For instance, for a back tooth such as a molar, a gold inlay or onlay may be better because it is extremely durable.
For more visible front teeth, though, we may recommend porcelain inlay or onlay because it is tooth-colored and will match the surrounding teeth. This is an attractive option that gives you both durability and a natural appearance. Composite resin is also available to our patients, but it can be more brittle and fragile when compared to porcelain or gold.
Your teeth have cusps or pointy parts on them. When your decay affects only one cusp, then you would benefit from an inlay. Inlays fit over just one cusp, helping to treat the surface of the tooth. When your decay is spread across multiple cusps, we may instead recommend an onlay. Unlike an inlay, we can cover more area with an onlay. It covers more than one cusp, or if the entire chewing surface of your tooth is affected, then we can place it there to strengthen and reinforce it.
Allow Us To Help
The advantages of inlays and onlays are numerous. They can help preserve more of the natural tooth, as less of it needs to be removed to place it. They are also a more conservative approach to tooth decay, versus placing a dental crown. They also often look natural and feel natural in your mouth and will last a long time if you take care of them.
If you have more questions about dental inlays and onlays, we would love to discuss them with you further! To learn more about them, or to schedule an appointment with us here at Summercrest Dental, please give us a call at (503) 649-7701 today!