When to Consider Use of Dental Inlays and Onlays
When suffering from damaged teeth, treatment mostly includes use of dental crowns and dental fillings. However, there are instances when the damage is too great to be fixed with fillings and yet not great enough to need the full coverage of crowns. In such a case, both inlays and onlays can be used. They are also referred to as indirect fillings to mean that they are fabricated outside the mouth, usually in a dental laboratory and then bonded onto the tooth by a dentist. This is contrary to traditional fillings which are usually applied directly to the cavity by a dentist in a single visit.
Inlays and onlays are made from gold, composite or porcelain materials. An inlay fits inside the cusps of the tooth while an onlays is fit over one or more cusps. You need two appointments to complete an inlay and onlays procedure. The prep work for the procedure is pretty much similar to getting dental crowns, only that there is minimal removal of the tooth’s natural structure.
With the prep work done, the next step is to take an impression of the tooth to facilitate preparation of the inlay or onlay. An impression can be taken digitally or by use of a putty-like material. The material used to prepare the inlay/onlay will be decided upon by you, in consultation with your dentist. Before you are discharged for your second appointment, a temporary sealant will be applied on the already prepared tooth.
In the second appointment, the sealant will be removed and the inlay or onlay will be fitted. If the fits is perfect, it will be bonded to the tooth using a resin and then polished for a smooth finish.
When to Use Inlays/Onlays
The dentist near you will recommend inlays/onlays when you have chipped or cracked teeth or are suffering from tooth decay. A crack or chip is not only a cosmetic issue but also affects the function of a tooth when it comes to chewing and biting. But if the damage is too extensive and a traditional filling cannot be used, onlays or inlays come in handy. This is however only possible if the damage does not extend to the pulp and does not need the support of dental crowns. In the case of tooth decay, onlays/inlays are used in minor to moderate cases to restore tooth function.
Benefits of Inlays or Onlays
The greatest benefit of inlays/onlays is that they provide for a conservative way to prepare the tooth, thus preserving most of the healthy part of the tooth. The also boast of visual appeal since they do not tend to discolor over time as tooth-colored resin fillings do. And with the tooth structure safeguarded, patients get to enjoy functional longevity.
Inlays and onlays are made to a tailored fit and are polished to ensure a smooth finish. This makes cleaning work easier for you. If you were to make a comparison of inlays or onlays vs dental crowns, it is definitely much easier to brush and floss with inlays/crowns than with crowns.
Also, unlike composite fillings that shrinkduring the curing process, inlays and onlays provide a precise fit that does not change over time. They are extremely stable and the superior fit enables them provide extra strength and stability to the tooth being treated.
To ensure good results with inlays/onlays, ensure you are working with a well-trained and experienced dentist. The tooth or teeth being worked on may also influence the outcome as the back teeth are difficult to prepare compared to the front teeth. it will also help to learn the pros and cons of each material before making the final decision. For instance gold tends to be very expensive when compared to other materials used.