Inlays and Onlays: You Choose the Material

So What Exactly are Inlays and Onlays?

When over half of the tooth's biting surface is damaged, a dentist will often use an inlay or onlay to correct it. An inlay, which is similar to a filling, is used inside the cusp tips of the tooth; an onlay is a more substantial reconstruction, similar to the inlay but extending out over one or more of the cusps of the tooth.

Inlays and onlays can be made of porcelain, gold, or composite resin. Traditionally, gold has been the material of choice for inlays and onlays; however, in recent years porcelain has become increasingly popular due to its strength and color, which matches the natural color of teeth. These pieces are bonded to the damaged area of the tooth.

How are they applied?

Inlays and onlays require two appointments. During the first visit, the old filling (or the damaged or decaying area of the tooth) is removed. To ensure proper fit and bite, an impression of the tooth is taken and sent to a lab for fabrication. Dr. Workman will then apply a temporary sealant on the tooth and schedule the next appointment.

At the second appointment, the temporary sealant is removed. Dr. Workman will then make sure that the inlay or onlay fits correctly. If the fit is good, the inlay or onlay will be bonded to the tooth with a strong resin and polished to a smooth finish.

Before/After Set 1
Considerations: Traditional fillings can reduce the strength of a natural tooth by up to 50 percent. As an alternative, inlays and onlays, bonded directly onto the tooth with special high-strength resins, can actually increase the strength of a tooth by up to 75 percent. As a result, they can last from 10–30 years. In some cases, when the damage to the tooth is not extensive enough to merit an entire crown, onlays can provide a good alternative.

Contact Dr. Workman today!

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