Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and onlays are like fillings, they restore a tooth's surface. However, rather than being molded into a cavity, they are prefabricated to fit the exact dimensions of a cavity. Inlays and onlays are more conservative procedures than crowns or bridges.
An easy way to understand the difference between inlays, onlays, and crowns is in their size. Inlays fill cavities that are too big for a filling and fit in the crevices of the tooth. Onlays fill more than just the crevices of the tooth, they replace the chewing surface and curvature of the tooth. Crowns replace the entire enamel of the tooth and are the largest of the three prostheses. At Division Smiles Family Dental we will discuss with you every restorative treatment that you qualify for, so you can make an informed decision.
Benefits of Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and onlays are custom-made fillings that repair a cavity, bonding to the enamel of the tooth. Inlays typically fit within the cusps of the tooth. The benefit of the two is that they contract less than traditional fillings, lowering the risk of bacteria invading the space between the filling and tooth.
The data on whether or not fillings are better than inlays, vice versa, is inconclusive. In theory, inlays and onlays are more durable and resilient than fillings because they are custom-made to fit the bite of the tooth and the space of the cavity, restoring a more effective chewing surface than fillings.
Onlays are similar to inlays, the main distinction is surface coverage. Inlays fill cavities within the cusp of a tooth. Onlays are used to fill larger cavities that affect the cusp and sides of the tooth. Onlays can be used as an alternative to a crown. A tooth that has a root canal may not qualify for an onlay. Root canals remove larger amounts of tissue from the tooth, making them highly prone to chipping.
Installing Inlays and Onlays
An inlay or onlay usually takes two appointments to install. During your first appointment, your dentist will numb your tooth and surrounding tissues with an anesthetic. Once the area is numbed decayed tissue is removed from the cavity and the space is cleaned. An impression is made from an opposing tooth. You may be sent home with a temporary filling while your inlay or onlay is being fabricated. The inlay or onlay will be fabricated in a dental lab, using your dental impression. When your inlay or onlay is ready, you return to have the cavity cleaned and the filling is cemented into place.
Reach out to us at Division Smiles Family Dental. We can provide you with a dental exam and discuss different treatment plans that you qualify for. Inlays and onlays are less frequently covered by dental insurance. Inlays and onlays are reserved for patients without insurance or patients who understand the additional costs of fillings. If you are unsure which restorative procedure may be covered by your insurance, consult your insurance agent after you visit with us. Call us at (971) 978-0293 to schedule an exam, consultation, or for more information.