When it comes to restoring teeth, Healthy Smiles Family Dentistry offers some practical and affordable solutions, including inlays and onlays. Also known as indirect fillings, inlays and onlays are dental restorations that are not offered at every dental office. We specialize in these restorations because we believe a conservative approach can be greatly beneficial to the future of your oral health.
The Difference Between an Inlay and Onlay
Both inlays and onlays are used to restore a decayed or damaged tooth to its original condition. Both are also considered to be a more conservative approach to dental crowns because they do not involve a complete reshaping of the damaged tooth.
There is only one major difference between an inlay and onlay: the position of the restoration. An inlay fits within the cusps of your teeth, while an onlay covers the entire occlusal (bite) surface, and extends over one or more of the cusps.
The Procedure for Inlays and Onlays
The procedure for these indirect fillings is broken down into two appointments. During the first appointment, our dentists will prepare the damaged tooth, and take a molded impression. The impression is sent to the dental laboratory, where specially-trained technicians will fabricate your indirect filling. While your restoration is being fabricated, we may provide you with a provisional temporary to protect the tooth.
We will discuss with you which material is best to use. Inlays and onlays can be made of porcelain, gold, or resin composite. If aesthetics are an issue, we will recommend porcelain or resin composite. If the restoration must support a strong bite force, gold may be the best option.
Once the restoration is complete, we can schedule your second appointment. During your visit, our dentists will remove the temporary and place your final restoration. Inlays and onlays are extremely stable restorations that rarely fail. Before you leave, our dentists will check the margins to ensure a smooth fit and proper bite. It is important to make sure there are no occlusion-related problems affecting the margins of the restoration. Once we have achieved the proper fit, the restoration will be permanently bonded to the tooth and polished.
The Benefits of a More Conservative Approach
There are some benefits to choosing an indirect filling over a dental crown, some of which include:
- Superior fit—Indirect fillings preserve as much of the healthy tooth as possible, making them the optimal choice if you have moderate or minimal decay located between your teeth.
- Superior structure—Indirect fillings not only restore the decayed and damaged areas, but they also help ensure the longevity of your tooth, by providing additional support.
- Superior aesthetics—Most indirect fillings these days are fabricated using porcelain. Porcelain is the ideal material for tooth restorations because it can be shaped to match the aesthetic properties of natural enamel. Recent technological developments have led to stronger porcelain that can be used for teeth in the posterior region of your mouth as well.
- Easy to clean—Unlike full coverage restorations, your indirect fillings will be easy to clean. Because they are prefabricated, your indirect filling will not shrink like a resin composite direct filling. This ensures a precise fit restoration that’s easy to maintain.