Inlays and onlays, also known as indirect fillings, are dental restorations used to restore teeth with minimal to moderate areas of damage or decay. They are fabricated by a dental laboratory before being bonded to the affected area of the tooth. Since they are customized for each patient, they help to preserve the natural tooth structure, strengthen the tooth, and restore the tooth’s function. An inlay is generally placed over the center of the tooth, while an onlay is usually placed on the center as well as one or more of the tooth’s points.
Did You Know?
Inlays and onlays can be made using gold, resin, or porcelain. Since both dental materials offer different benefits and drawbacks, it is important to discuss your options with your dentist to determine which dental material would best suit your needs.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Am I a candidate for an inlay or onlay?
Candidates for inlays or onlays are individuals who have one or more teeth with minimal to moderate damage or decay. If the damage or decay is in the center of the tooth, a dental inlay will usually be recommended. Dental inlays also work well for restoring cavities between the teeth because they seal out bacteria better than a composite filling. However, if the damage or decay affects one or more of the tooth’s cusps, then a dental onlay may be recommended instead. Dental onlays can also be used to strengthen weak areas of the tooth. To determine if you are an ideal candidate for a dental inlay or onlay and which is right for you, schedule a consultation with your dentist today.
What can I expect when having an inlay or onlay placed?
When having an inlay or onlay placed, you can expect to have two dental appointments. The first appointment allows your dentist to prepare your tooth by removing any damaged or decayed tissue. Then a dental impression or oral scan will be taken and sent to the dental lab so they can custom fabricate your restoration. After that, a temporary inlay or onlay will be placed to protect your tooth until your restoration is complete.
During your first appointment, your dentist may also discuss the dental materials available for your restoration. Although inlays and onlays can be made from gold, resin, or porcelain, it can be hard to know which is best. Gold is ideal for durability, porcelain is ideal for aesthetics, and resin is ideal for individuals who have bruxism or malocclusion.
After about 1-2 weeks, you will attend your second dental appointment to have your temporary restoration removed and your permanent restoration placed. Before cementing your inlay or onlay in place, your dentist will check its fit, as well as how it interacts with your bite.
How do I take care of my inlay or onlay?
Taking care of your temporary inlay or onlay is actually slightly harder than taking care of your permanent inlay or onlay. This is because temporary restorations are not nearly as strong as permanent restorations and can fall out or become damaged much easier. Therefore, you are recommended to chew on the opposite side of your mouth and avoid hard, chewy, and sticky foods.
Once you have your permanent inlay or onlay, you will care for it the same way you would care for your natural teeth. This means brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, and scheduling regular dental exams and cleanings every 6 months. Additionally, to prevent damage to your restoration, you will need to avoid habits like chewing on ice or pens, biting your nails, and using your teeth as tools to open or hold things.