Sometimes we find tooth decay or damage that is too extensive to be treated with a traditional dental filling but is not serious enough to require a full dental crown. In such cases, an inlay or onlay is often the perfect way to restore the health and function of the teeth. They are often also called indirect fillings, as they are first prepared in a dental lab and are applied to the teeth later.
Inlays and onlays are made using a shade of porcelain that matches the natural color of your teeth. They are often used to replace large metal fillings and give patients are more long-lasting and natural looking smile.
Inlay and onlay restorations can be thought of as larger fillings that are made in a dental lab using porcelain instead of composite. When the central chewing surface of a back tooth is replaced, the restoration used is an inlay, while when a larger area including one or more cusps in addition to the central chewing surface needs to be restored, then an onlay is used.
Advantages of inlays and onlays:
- They are durable and strong
- They are more natural looking
- They add to the natural strength of the tooth
- They are less prone to discoloration over time
The procedure of installing inlays and onlays is different from that of a traditional filling. It requires two appointments to be completed and is generally done with a local anesthetic. In the first stage, an impression of the damaged tooth is taken to produce your custom restoration. The tooth is cleaned, and any existing decay is removed. During the second appointment, your inlay or onlay is fitted on to the tooth. Once we are sure that the fitting is perfect, and your bite is proper, it is secured in place using a special dental cement.
If you want to learn more about dental inlays and onlays, please call our office at (954) 941-4410 to schedule a consultation.