If you have a decayed or damaged tooth, or you wish to replace an older metal filling, you may consider the option of an inlay or an onlay. Inlays and onlays are very natural-looking dental restorations that give your teeth the natural shape and feel they had before damage or disease struck.
As a prosthodontist, Dr. Ashwini Bhave is specially trained in the aesthetic restoration and replacement of damaged or missing teeth; she will help you reclaim a complete healthy smile with the placement of an inlay, onlay or other type of dental restoration.
Understanding Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and onlays are outstanding options for teeth with larger cavities or areas of damage that need something more supportive than a dental filling, but not as extensive as a dental crown.
Onlays are placed on the center of the tooth and cover one or more of the points or “cusps” of the chewing surface. Inlays are smaller and fit within the center of the tooth without covering any cusps.
Unlike fillings, which are molded directly into place during a dental appointment, inlays and onlays are created indirectly in a dental laboratory as a single piece. They are made precisely to fit the parameters of the empty space left over after the decayed or damaged tooth material is removed.
Today’s inlays and onlays are made from several different materials, with porcelain offering the most natural-looking result. Porcelain is very durable and safe, as it does not contract or expand with hot or cold temperatures like other materials. Porcelain inlays and onlays are commonly used on the front teeth that show when smiling. Inlays and onlays for the back teeth (molars) may be fabricated from metal materials for added strength.
The design, fitting and placement of your inlay or onlay should involve at least two dental appointments. During the first appointment, your affected tooth is prepared for the restoration; this involves removing damaged or decayed tooth material and cleaning your tooth. Dr. Bhave prepares the tooth very carefully to preserve as much natural tooth structure as possible, which is best for the long-term health of the tooth. Impressions are taken of the prepared tooth and sent to the lab that creates your inlay or onlay. A temporary inlay or onlay is placed to protect your tooth until the permanent restoration is ready.
Once the permanent restoration is delivered to our office, the second appointment takes place. Your provisional restoration is removed and the final restoration is bonded into place. Dr. Bhave checks the inlay or onlay to ensure it fits comfortably and supports a normal bite.
A properly designed and placed inlay or onlay can last for many years. The restored tooth should look, feel and function just like a natural tooth. A tooth with an inlay or onlay can be brushed and flossed normally with no special maintenance. You should have your restoration checked by Dr. Bhave at least every six months.
Learn More About Inlays and Onlays
For more information about dental inlays or onlays, Dr. Bhave invites you to contact our Bay Area dental practice. Call or email us today!