Inlays and Onlays

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Dentist use an inlay or onlay when more than half of the tooth’s biting surface is damaged because of decay or fractures in the tooth.

What are inlays and onlays?

Inlays and onlays can be made of gold or porcelain by a dental laboratory just like a dental crown only with less tooth structure. These pieces are bonded to the tooth replacing the missing tooth structure. An inlay, which is similar to a large filling, is used inside the tips of the tooth, call cusps. An onlay is a more substantial reconstruction because it often covers most of the biting surface of the tooth.

Gold is still the best choice for most inlays and onlays but porcelain gives the best cosmetic dentistry results. In recent years the quality of porcelain restorations has become increasingly popular due to its strength and color. Our dental team can easily match the natural color of your teeth for a great looking tooth restoration that is not noticeable.

How are inlays and onlays applied?

Inlays and onlays require two appointments just like dental crown work.During the first visit, the decay or damaged tooth structure is removed. The tooth is prepared for the inlay or onlay dental impression. To ensure proper fit and bite, great care is taken to make the most accurate impression of the tooth for the dental laboratory. A temporary covering is made by the dentist, and the impression is sent to a lab for fabrication of the inlay or onlay. Make sure to as the front desk to schedule the next appointment the final fitting of the dental restoration.

At the second appointment, the temporary filling is removed. Drs. Cavanaugh and Dr. Becker will then make sure that the inlay or onlay fits correctly. If the fit is satisfactory, the inlay or onlay will be cemented to the tooth. Our dental team will polished to it a smooth finish and adjust it to work with your natural bite.

Considerations for inlays and onlays

Traditional fillings can reduce the strength of a natural tooth by up to 40 percent. As an alternative, inlays and onlays, which are bonded directly onto the tooth using special high-strength porcelain, can actually increase the strength of a tooth by up to 70 percent. As a result, they can last from 12 to 25 years. Please ask our dental insurance coordinator to make sure your dental insurance allows for coverage. When the damage to the tooth is extensive enough a crown is a very good alternative.

Please give our Littleton Dental office a call to have Dr. Cavaugh or Dr. Becker restore your teeth to a healthy and functional smile.