When it comes to treating cavities, inlays and onlays are excellent treatment options, albeit lesser-known types of restorations. At DeJesus Dental Group, Bridgeport cosmetic dentist Phillip DeJesus and our team of dentists use inlays and onlays to restore damage that has affected the biting surface of the rear teeth. Inlays and onlays are indicated when a dental filling will not sufficiently restore the tooth, but the more aggressive action of crown placement is not required.
Dental Fillings and Crowns vs. Inlays and Onlays
When explaining what inlays and onlays are, it is helpful to compare them to dental fillings and crowns, treatment with which patients are more familiar.
Like dental fillings, inlays and onlays are used to replace tooth material that has been lost due to damage or decay. With dental fillings, however, the restorative material is placed directly into the space left by the cavity. Additional filling material is added and shaped until the cavity in the tooth is closed, the appearance of the tooth is restored, and the bite is adjusted.
With inlays and onlays, the restorative material is shaped indirectly, that is, out of the patient’s mouth and in a lab setting. Inlays and onlays are custom made to the tooth’s specification; once made, the restoration is bonded to the surface of the tooth. In this way, inlays and onlays are similar to dental crowns, which are also custom made in a lab to fit the patient’s tooth. Dental crowns, however, encase the entire tooth rather than just covering the top surface of the tooth.
Inlays vs. Onlays
Both inlays and onlays are used to treat tooth damage on the top surface of the pre-molars and molars. Still, there is a difference between the two treatments.
- Inlays:Inlays are used when the decay only affects the indented portion of the biting surface.
- Onlays:Onlays are recommended when the decay affects the indented surface and the tips, or cusps, of the teeth. Onlays are larger in size and are also called partial crowns.
The Inlays and Onlays Treatment Process
The inlays and onlays treatment process involves the following stages:
The First Treatment Appointment
The first treatment appointment generally takes place within a few weeks of diagnosis of the cavity.
- The decayed and infected areas of the tooth are removed. The tooth is cleaned and sterilized.
- A mold, or impression, is taken of the treated tooth or teeth.
- A temporary restoration is placed on the tooth.
The Second Treatment Appointment
About two weeks later, the patient returns to our Bridgeport office for placement of the final inlay or onlay.
- The temporary inlay or onlay is removed.
- The tooth is cleaned and sterilized.
- The inlay or onlay is secured to the tooth using a durable dental adhesive.
- The patient’s bite is adjusted.
Inlays and onlays are a great treatment option in certain cases. For our patients in Bridgeport, dental crowns and fillings are alternate options. Dr. DeJesus and our dentists will determine which restoration is right for you during a dental exam. Use our online tool to schedule an appointment with us.