Inlays and onlays may be unfamiliar terms to dental patients, but they are valuable tools for a skilled cosmetic dentist seeking to fix a decayed tooth while preserving as much of the tooth as possible.
When a tooth has a cavity, there is a spectrum of restorative dentistry options a cosmetic dentist can choose from based on the degree of decay. If decay is minimal, a filling or dental bonding offers the right amount of restoration. If there is extensive decay, than a dental crown that completely encases the tooth will prevent the tooth from additional decay and strengthen it.
But there are times when there is too much decay for a filling, yet not enough tooth is damaged to merit a dental crown. Inlays and onlays offer the “just right” amount of restoration in these cases.
A Perfect Fit
For Dr. Thomas J. Price in Decatur, inlays and onlays are a perfect fit for his conservative approach toward dental procedures since they allow him to use the least destructive treatment possible. By employing an inlay or onlay, Dr. Price can avoid resorting to a crown, which requires extensive tooth preparation. Preserving as much tooth as possible ensures better dental health in the future.
Unlike fillings, inlays and onlays can replace substantial sections of tooth that have been damaged, restoring the look of the tooth while also making it stronger. An inlay is used when decay is limited to the tooth’s indented portion of the biting surface. Onlays treat decay that affects the indented biting surface and the tips, or cusps, of the teeth. Onlays are sometimes called partial crowns.
In either case, enough of the original tooth must remain to support an inlay or onlay, which can be determined by Dr. Price. If too much decay has occurred, then Dr. Price may recommend a dental crown instead.
Inlay and Onlay Treatment Process
The process for placing both inlays and onlays is the same and requires two visits.
During the first visit, the area is numbed and the decayed part of the tooth is removed. A mold is taken of the prepared tooth. This impression will be used by a dental lab to create the inlay or onlay. Next, a temporary restoration will be placed on the tooth.
In a week or two, when the final inlay or onlay is ready, you will return for the second appointment. The temporary restoration piece will be removed. Then, the fit of the permanent inlay or onlay will be checked. After final adjustments, the permanent restoration will be secured to the tooth.
Inlays and onlays are usually custom-made from tooth-colored porcelain or composite resin so they will blend in with your natural teeth. However, they can also be made of gold. Whatever the material, inlays and onlays are durable and can last from 10 to 30 years with proper care.
If you suspect you have a cavity, Dr. Price can assess the extent of decay and recommend treatment suited to your situation. Prompt treatment of tooth decay is important as it can prevent further damage to the tooth and loss of tooth structure.