Inlays and Onlays
Often referred to as a ¾ Crown, Inlays, and Onlays are a customized shell designed to cover large areas of damage on a tooth when a standard filling would be insufficient. Most patients are aware of dental crowns, which entirely encase a tooth, but many are unaware of these partial crowns and how they can provide many benefits to the tooth. When possible, inlays and onlays are the preferred choice.
An inlay is designed for patients who have a deep cavity, the inlay is customized to fit inside the hole and fill the space. An onlay is designed for patients who have had a tooth fracture or break, the inlay is customized to rest on the tooth at the breakage site. Inlays and onlays are ideal for patients who have significant, but not entire, tooth damage. We recommend inlays and onlays for patients who:
An inlay or onlay may be preferred when the natural tooth can be protected with it versus a full crown. We try to have an as little impact on natural teeth as possible. When a full crown is placed, it is necessary to remove a large portion of the natural tooth for proper fitting. If we can customize a piece to fit the damaged portion, thereby not reducing the natural tooth in structure and size, but only restoring it, this is preferred.
Much like a dental crown, inlays and onlays are available in a variety of hard-wearing materials that are designed for the surface tension of chewing including, porcelain, gold, and composite resin. In many cases, patients maintain their inlays and onlays for greater than a decade, some even still have them 30 years later.
Traditional amalgam and composite fillings strengthen teeth by 50 percent from its damaged state, where inlays and onlays have been shown to increase the strength of the tooth by 75 percent from its damaged state. This added strength prolongs the life of the tooth and helps prevent the need for future treatment.
In general, the creation and placement of a dental inlay or onlay require two dental office visits. At the first visit, after we have determined that this is the best course of action, we will then take an impression of the tooth. With this information, we will send the impression along with instructions to a dental lab where the inlay or onlay will be fabricated.
Once our team at South Main Dental has received the inlay or onlay, we will contact you for a fitting. During this visit, we can make small adjustments to fit your bite precisely. The inlay or onlay is cemented into place and once cured, you are ready to go!