The Complete Guide to Inlays and Onlays, What Do They Actually Do?

If you’re dealing with damaged, broken, or decayed teeth, you may have heard about inlays and onlays as potential treatments. Inlays and onlays are sometimes called “three-quarter crowns” or “lab-made fillings.” They’re different from other common types of restorations but serve a very important purpose.But what are these dental restorations, and how do they work?

What is the Definition of Inlays and Onlays?

Inlays and onlays are special types of lab-made dental restorations that are used to repair teeth that have been damaged by decay or trauma. They’re larger than a filling but smaller than a crown, offering a unique middle ground for teeth with moderate structural damage.

Most inlays and onlays are typically made of porcelain or even gold, which are both durable and long-lasting materials that can withstand the pressure of chewing.

What is the Difference Between an Inlay and an Onlay?

The main difference between an inlay and an onlay is the portion of the tooth structure that needs to be repaired. An inlay is used when a portion inside of the tooth is damaged, such as the chewing area between the pointed “cusps.” It fits snugly into the space left by the decay, restoring the tooth to its natural shape and function. It can also expand over onto the side(s) of the tooth.

An onlay, on the other hand, is used when one or more cusps (the pointed edges on the chewing surface of the tooth) are involved, providing extra support and protection to the weakened tooth structure. You can think of them like a dental crown, except they only cover about 2/3 or 3/4 of the tooth rather than all of it.

The Process of Creating a Dental Inlay or Onlay

The process of creating a dental inlay or onlay typically involves two visits to the dentist’s office, similar to a crown procedure. During the first visit, our Arvada dentist will remove the damaged or decayed portion of the tooth and take an impression of the area. This impression will be used to create a custom-made inlay or onlay that fits perfectly into the space left by the decay.

In the meantime, we’ll place a temporary filling on your tooth to protect it until your permanent restoration is ready. At the second appointment (once the lab sends your restoration back to our office,) we will remove the temporary filling and bond the permanent inlay or onlay to your tooth.

What are the Benefits of an Inlay or Onlay?

Inlays and onlays offer a number of benefits over traditional fillings. First and foremost, they provide a more natural-looking restoration that blends in seamlessly with your existing teeth. They are also more durable and longer lasting than traditional fillings, as they are made from materials that are less likely to crack or break over time from heavy biting pressure.

In addition, inlays and onlays are less invasive than other types of full restorations, such as crowns. They require less tooth structure to be removed, which means that more of your natural tooth can be preserved. This can help to maintain the structural integrity of your tooth and reduce the risk of future dental problems and extend the overall lifespan of your tooth.

How to Pick a Dental Inlay or Onlay for Your Teeth

If you’re considering inlays or onlays as a potential dental restoration, it’s important to work with our Arvada dentist to choose the best treatment for your smile needs. Factors to consider include the extent of the damage to your tooth, the location of the damage, and your personal preferences in terms of materials used.

Our Arvada dentist can provide you with more information about the benefits of each type of restoration, as well as guidance on which one may be the best fit for your specific circumstances.

Reserve an Exam With Our Dentist in Arvada

If you have damaged or decayed teeth, inlays and onlays may be good options for restoring your smile. To learn more about these treatments and to find out if they’re right for you, contact Arvada Dental Center to schedule an appointment with our experienced dental team.


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