We’ve come a long way since the inception of dentistry. It used to be that enamel damage such as cavities and fractures were handled in one of two ways. If the damage was minor, a dental filling would be placed (and an unattractive one, at that!); more extensive damage would be repaired with a cap, or dental crown. Today, there are more levels of care than ever before. This allows us to perform precision treatment to meet specific needs. An example of this is the use of inlays and onlays.
Inlays and Onlays: The In-Between
We like to describe inlays and onlays as in-betweens; they are larger restorations that the average filling, but aren’t as large as a crown. These restorations are conservative in terms of preserving natural structure. In fact, their bond to tooth enamel actually fortifies strength. There is no need to severely alter the tooth in order to retain an inlay or onlay, and the tooth-colored materials safeguard natural beauty.
Inlays and onlays differ only by size. An inlay is placed inside the central area of the chewing surface of a tooth. An onlay is recommended when damage has expanded over one or more of the edges of a tooth, referred to as a cusp.
An Extended Treatment Process
There is a slight difference in the treatment protocol for inlays and onlays that for standard fillings. These restorations are made in a dental lab using a model of the damaged tooth. During the first visit, the diseased enamel or old filling is removed under local anesthetic, or numbing injections. Then, an impression is made of the tooth. The patient is sent home wearing a temporary cap that inhibits damage in the interim between visits. Treatment is completed in a subsequent visit by removing the temporary and assessing the fit of the new restoration. If needed, minor revisions are made prior to bonding the inlay or onlay to the tooth.
There are several reasons for the common use of inlays and onlays today. In addition to a natural aesthetic, patients appreciate the long-lasting strength achieved in this process.
Do you need restorative or cosmetic dental care? We’re here to help you. Call our Hedgesville office at (304) 754-8803.