Dental inlays and onlays are two reconstructive options for teeth that have mild to moderate tooth decay. They are offered by some dentists as an alternative to crowns, which require extensive destruction of the natural tooth before being fitted in the mouth.Inlays and Onlays can also be used as an alternative to traditional fillings. In such instances, the inlay or onlays offers a stronger, longer-lasting solution for repairing tooth decay or similar damage.
Dental inlays and onlays are a type of premolded filling, manufactured in a lab to fit perfectly on or within your natural tooth. Restorations requiring the restoration material to be bonded within the points (cusps) of the tooth biting surface are called Inlays. Whereas restorations covering the one or more cusps of the biting surface is called an Outlay. These customized restorations can be made out of gold or a tooth-colored ceramic or resin.
Once bonded to your natural tooth, your inlay or onlay not only restores the look of your natural tooth, but also provides structural reinforcement against daily wear and tear.
The process of getting an inlay or onlay is very similar to the process for getting a dental crown. At your first appointment, your dentist will numb the area being treated and clean out the decayed area of the tooth — much the same way the tooth would be prepared for a filling.
The process aims to ensure that all decay is removed — it’s an essential part of preventing further decay and possible infection after the inlay or onlay has been set. Once all the decay has been removed, your dentist will take an impression of the remaining tooth area. This impression will be used by the laboratory to create your inlay or onlay. A temporary filling will be installed by your dentist to last until your second and final appointment.
Once the laboratory has completed your inlay or onlay, you will return to the dentist’s office for your final appointment. During this visit, the dentist will numb the area, remove the temporary filling, and bond your permanent inlay or onlay to your natural tooth.
Inlays and onlays are strong, long-lasting, and require no additional care than any other tooth. With good daily brushing and flossing and regular professional cleanings at Mid Wilshire Dentistry, your inlay or onlay restoration can last for years.