At La Jolla Family Smile Design, our dentists always try to preserve as much healthy tooth structure as we can. We feel it is best for the ultimate health and longevity of your teeth if we can repair problems like decay without removing more tooth structure than is necessary.
When are Inlays and Onlays Needed?
If you have a tooth with too much decay for a traditional filling, but not enough to require a crown, our dentists might recommend inlays and onlays. These restorations are larger than fillings but more conservative than a full-coverage dental crown.
From a functional and aesthetic standpoint, inlays and onlays are an outstanding option. They look very natural and blend in with the color of the surrounding tooth enamel. An inlay or onlay can help prolong the life of your tooth while improving its shape and form.
What Are Inlays and Onlays?
Like fillings, inlays and onlays replace tooth structure that has developed decay. They are generally used for teeth with larger cavities; they can also replace older dental fillings.
Inlays fit in the center of the chewing surface of the tooth, in between its top points or “cusps.” Onlays are larger and cover a greater portion of the tooth structure, including one or more cusps.
Both inlays and onlays create a tight seal over the tooth to keep more bacteria from getting into its crevices. They are constructed from durable porcelain, which is both strong and beautiful. You can chew and bite comfortably on a tooth with an inlay and onlay, trusting that the strong material will resist damage.
Inlays and Onlays Placement Details
The process of getting an inlay or onlay usually requires two dental appointments, as the restorations are made in an outside dental laboratory. Instead of placing the composite resin filling material directly onto the tooth and shaping it to fit the space, inlays and onlays are fabricated as one piece and fit precisely into the tooth. They are custom-made for a perfect fit and appearance.
During your first appointment, one of our dentists will prepare your tooth receiving the restoration by removing damaged or decayed areas. The dentist will clean the tooth completely. The two of you will decide on the appropriate color of your restoration based on your surrounding tooth structure. Impressions will be made of the affected tooth and the information sent to an outside dental laboratory; it usually takes about two weeks to construct the restoration. Our dentist will place a temporary inlay or onlay to protect your tooth in the interim.
When your permanent inlay or onlay is ready, the second visit takes place. The temporary restoration will be removed and our dentist will place your permanent one. If you are happy with the way it looks and feels, and it supports a proper bite, the dentist will cement it to the tooth.
It may take a few days to get used to the way your inlay or onlay feels. However, you should not feel any pain with your new restoration. You can brush and floss your restored tooth just as you would your natural teeth.
Contact Our Dental Team about Inlays & Onlays Today
Looking for more information about restoring decayed teeth with inlays or onlays, or replacing old metal fillings with modern, attractive restorations? La Jolla Family Smile Design is here for you. Please call 858-454-3044 or email us today to speak with a member of our team.