Inlays & Onlays
You have likely heard the terms inlay and onlay before, but if you are like most patients, you don’t know what they actually are or their purpose. Lincoln Smiles can help. Allow us to explain the difference between dental inlays and onlays, what they are used for, and what to expect during placement.
What Are Dental Inlays and Onlays?
Inlays and onlays are used to treat extensive decay or damage to a tooth, typically more than half, that is too big to be fixed with a filling but not so big as to require a crown. These small structures are custom-designed to your specific mouth shape to provide a tight, protective fit. Inlays and onlays are durable and provide strength and support to the tooth.
Inlays and onlays are similar in that they are both generally made of either gold, porcelain, or resin. However, inlays are used on the chewing surfaces of the teeth, between the cusps, while onlays are placed to include covering the cusps themselves but not the whole tooth. Inlays are positioned over the inside of the tooth while onlays are placed over inside and outside areas.
With proper care and excellent oral hygiene practices, inlays and onlays are long-lasting, up to thirty years or more. Be sure to brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, and attend regular cleanings and examinations to preserve the durability of inlays and onlays.
What Can I Expect During Placement of Inlays and Onlays?
As with the majority of dental procedures, we will first ask you questions about your medical history as well as any medications you currently take. It is important to be open with this information to reduce the risk of any potential complications.
In the beginning stages, the process is similar to receiving a filling. While you recline comfortably in our dental chair, we will administer a local anesthetic to the affected area and wait for the area to numb. Next, we use a drill to cut through the tooth and to remove decay. Once the tooth is clean, we may use a file to shape parts of your tooth and to prepare it for the adhesive.
Rather than fill the newly empty cavity inside the mouth as with a filling, we make molds or impressions of your teeth and then use them to custom design the inlay or onlay outside of the mouth. Once created, we will place the structure over your teeth and adjust to fit as necessary before cementing it in place. We will again file, shape, and polish the inlay or onlay to ensure proper fit and comfort.
For optimal results, be sure to follow any recommendations or instructions we provide both before and after the procedure. Also, let us know if you experience side effects like severe pain, fever, or difficulty chewing, or if you have any questions or concerns.
If you have decayed, fractured, or otherwise damaged teeth, we don’t expect you to know what procedure is best to fix your problem. That’s our job.
Lincoln Smiles will examine you, assess your needs, and provide the appropriate treatment. Call us at 916-543-8800 today to schedule an appointment.