What Are Dental Inlays and Onlays?
When a tooth is damaged too heavily to be fixed with a simple filling, but not extensive enough to need a full dental crown, a good option for restoring the tooth may be a dental inlay or onlay.
Dental inlays and onlays are sometimes referenced as indirect fillings, which means that they are made or fabricated outside of the mouth, and in a dental laboratory or with a milling machine. Afterwards, the inlay or only is bonded to the tooth. A direct filling, however, is applied directly to the tooth by the dentist in one visit.
A dental inlay fits into the ridges or grooves of a tooth and does not extend over the cusps (tips) of the tooth. It is a dental onlay if it affects one or more of these cusps or potentially the biting surface. Regardless, the same procedure is used for both inlays and onlays.
What To Expect
Having a dental inlay or onlay is similar to having a dental crown placed.
It usually takes two separate appointments for treatment to be completed. At the first appointment, the tooth and surrounding area will be numbed with a local anesthetic. Then the decay will be removed. This helps prevent additional decay, which is actually a type of infection, from progressing deeper into the tooth.
Once the tooth has been prepared for treatment, the dentist takes a mold or dental impression of the damaged tooth. Next, the dental impression is sent to a dental laboratory where the dental inlay or onlay is created. Dental inlays and onlays are usually made from porcelain, but they can also be made from composite resin or gold.
Before you leave the office, your dentist will create a temporary filling to protect your tooth until your next appointment, when the dental inlay or onlay will be placed. During the second appointment, the temporary restoration will be removed, and the dental inlay or onlay fits will be permanently bonded to the tooth with a strong resin adhesive.
Dental inlays and onlays are durable and long-lasting and require no greater care than any other restoration. Talk to your dentist about which is the best option for you.
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