Inlays & Onlays Explained

added on: May 22, 2017

Keeping natural teeth is important for reasons in addition to just creating an appealing smile. A natural tooth provides a number of advantages both above and below the gum line.

It has been shown that people who have their natural teeth live an average of ten years longer than people who wear dentures. And, it is a fact that, when a natural tooth is lost, the next to be lost will be one adjacent.

When most people think of having a cavity in a tooth repaired, a ‘filling’ is typically the anticipated procedure. However, large cavities of teeth that have an overload of decay or previous fillings are often crowned. A crown (or ‘cap’) covers the entire top and sides of the tooth to protect the remaining structure. This helps preserve the tooth along with its roots that are so beneficial to the health of the jaw bone that supports them.

In the past, many dentists used a silver ‘amalgam’ material to fill the portion of the tooth that was removed.  Because of the concerns surrounding the suspected hazards of amalgam’s mercury content, non-amalgam filling materials became the standard choice for most dentists.

Non-amalgam tooth-colored fillings contain no mercury and provide a more tooth-like appearance. Yet, there are times when a filling is not quite right and a crown may be more than is needed. This is where inlays and onlays are a better option.

Inlays and onlays are ideal when a large, biting surface area of a tooth needs repair. Inlays and onlays are like porcelain puzzle pieces. They are custom-designed to fit precisely into the tooth, similar to how a puzzle piece fits snugly into a jigsaw puzzle.

The procedure begins with removing the decayed area and preparing the tooth. You are fully numbed during the procedure. While you relax, a mold is made of the area to be replaced with the inlay or onlay. A temporary ‘restoration’ will be provided to protect the area while a dental lab creates your final porcelain inlay or onlay. Once the restoration is ready, you’ll return to our office to have it ‘seated’ into placed and secured with a special dental adhesive.

The porcelain used in inlay and onlay construction provides exceptional durability and provides a highly natural feel and function with exceptional longevity. During both appointments, your comfort is a priority. If desired, oral sedation can be added to treatment for added relaxation.

When a tooth needs repair beyond the adequacy of a simple filling (or less than the need for a full crown), an inlay or onlay may be the ideal remedy. If this is best for your individual situation, I’ll be happy to explain the procedure, comfort options, treatment time and estimated cost.

Call 586-739-2155 to request a no-cost, no obligation consultation.


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