Inlays and onlays are two types of restorations that repair teeth in need of more than a filling, but do not warrant a dental crown. The process involves treating the tooth and placing a custom inlay or onlay that fits the resulting void like a puzzle piece. The skilled dentists at Boston Prosthodontics Dental Group create these restorations in our world-class laboratory and place inlays and onlays in our Boston, MA, office. These restorations can restore function to a damaged tooth and protect the tooth from further damage.
Determining if an Inlay or Onlay is Right for You
Before treating a damaged tooth, your dentist will perform a careful examination. The type of restoration your dentist chooses to place is dependent on the extent of damage. Minor cavities may require a filling, while teeth with more extensive damage require a crown. Those teeth that fall somewhere in between can typically benefit from an inlay or onlay. These restorations are often used to replace old fillings that have failed.
By choosing more conservative methods, we can preserve more of your natural tooth, which is better for your overall oral health.
Your dentist will let you know what type of restoration you need and can help you choose the material. We can craft inlays and onlays from metals such as silver or gold, or from tooth-colored materials such as ceramic. Most patients choose tooth-colored materials because they give the restored tooth a natural, uniform appearance.
The Difference Between an Inlay and an Onlay
Although similar, inlays and onlays serve two separate functions. An inlay is used to restore the chewing surface of a molar. Onlays can restore the chewing surface and one or more cusps. A cusp is a protrusion of the crown of the tooth. Back molars may have four or five, while canine teeth have just one.
Placement of Inlays and Onlays
The placement of an inlay or an onlay is typically done over the course of two appointments. In your first appointment, your dentist treats your tooth by removing any decay and damaged areas. Then he will take impressions of your tooth. Our skilled technicians use these impressions to create your inlay or onlay in our on-site dental laboratory. The technician will craft your restoration from the material you chose. If you chose a tooth-colored material, the technician will ensure it matches the natural shade of your smile. Your dentist will place a temporary inlay or onlay to protect your tooth in between visits.
When your inlay or onlay is ready, you will return to our office. Your dentist will remove the temporary restoration he placed and then secure your custom-made inlay or onlay in place. He will make any necessary adjustments to ensure the restoration fits precisely with your bite.
Our Conservative Approach
At Boston Prosthodontics Dental Group, we believe in choosing the most conservative approach available. By choosing more conservative methods, we can preserve more of your natural tooth, which is better for your overall oral health. Putting a large filling in a tooth can actually weaken its structure and could lead to a broken tooth or a future root canal. Dental crowns require us to remove a larger portion of the natural tooth, making them less than ideal for teeth with moderate damage. With an inlay or onlay, we only need to remove the damaged portions, so we can save more of your tooth.
We use the most up-to-date methods to provide you with the best possible care for damaged teeth. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment to find out if an inlay or an onlay is right for you.