If you have a damaged tooth, one of the options available to you for repairing the tooth is an inlay or an onlay. Both of these are dental prosthetics that can be applied to a damaged tooth to restore it to its natural shape.
You might need an inlay or an onlay can if your tooth is damaged from decay, physical injury, or gum disease. Inlays and onlays can be made from a variety of materials, including ceramic, porcelain, gold, or composite resin. The advantage to using ceramic or resin in fabricating the inlay or onlay is that they can be tinted to match the color of your surrounding teeth, making them virtually undetectable. Dr. Jared Lusk can talk to you more about cosmetic dentistry in Farmington, NM, including inlays and onlays.
The Function of Inlays and Onlays
Although they sound similar to a dental crown or filling, inlays and onlays are different. A crown, which is also called a “cap,” covers the entire top and sides of a tooth after it has been prepared to make room for a crown. An inlay or onlay covers just a small portion of your tooth.
Damage on the top of the tooth surface requires an inlay. Damage that extends to the sides of the tooth requires an onlay.
When your dentist prepares to place an inlay or onlay, he or she will start with cleaning the tooth, looking for unstable areas on the tooth structure, before making a mold of the tooth. The mold is sent to a laboratory where the custom inlay or onlay is made. The final step involves cementing the inlay or onlay in place.
The Benefits of Inlays and Onlays
Recovery after the procedure is quick, and with proper care, the repaired tooth can last for many years. Patients who receive either an inlay or an onlay benefit from the fact that not only is their damaged tooth saved, but it is also strengthened with the prosthetic. The precise construction of inlays and onlays means that there is no space between it and the tooth, so harmful bacteria cannot enter. This provides an advantage over fillings, which require that more of the tooth is removed.