An inlay, as the name suggests, is used to restore teeth that have significant decay or damage to the inner portion of teeth between the cusps (raised parts of the biting surface of teeth). For patients who experience damage that is too deep to be treated with a filling but that has not reached the inner pulp layer of teeth, an inlay rebuilds the damaged dental structure.
Without an inlay, a dental crown would be used to restore smiles with this level damage, but this lead to the unnecessary loss of exterior dental structure to prepare the tooth to receive the crown, and necessitated the restoration of the inside of the tooth with filling material before placing the crown.
Onlays are used when dental decay or trauma encompasses one or more cusps or surfaces of the tooth. It lays over the top of the tooth, but does not cover the entire visible portion of teeth the way that dental crowns do. Like inlays, onlays allow the dentist to fully restore a tooth’s form and function without unnecessarily removing healthy dental structure.
If decay has built up in a tooth over time, then the area of damaged tooth tissue will have developed into large cavity that will require immediate attention. Without treatment, the decay will continue to grow and spread and could eventually extend into your root canal causing much pain, potential tooth loss and a much more costly treatment plan.
Cleaning and safely filling your large cavity with an inlay or an onlay will therefore help protect your tooth from any further infection and decay.
Made from porcelain, plastic resin or gold, both inlays and onlays can last up to 20 years where oral hygiene is maintained and with regular check-ups to your dentist.
Inlays and onlays require two appointments to complete the procedure. During the first visit, the filling being replaced or the damaged or decaying area of the tooth is removed, and the tooth is prepared for the inlay or onlay. To ensure proper fit and bite, an impression of the tooth is made and sent to a lab for fabrication. The doctor will then apply a temporary sealant on the tooth and schedule the next appointment.
At the second appointment, the temporary sealant is removed. Dr. Vinod Chandel will then make sure that the inlay or onlay fits correctly. If the fit is satisfactory, the inlay or onlay will be bonded to the tooth with a strong resin and polished to a smooth finish.
Traditional fillings can reduce the strength of a natural tooth by up to 50 percent. As an alternative, inlays and onlays, which are bonded directly onto the tooth using 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 to 30 years. In some cases, where the damage to the tooth is not extensive enough to merit an entire crown, onlays can provide a very good alternative.