Inlays And Onlays
For patients with advanced tooth decay who aren't willing to pursue more aggressive treatment like root canals and crowns, inlays and onlays can not only improve the appearance of a tooth, they can also strengthen it significantly. While fillings can damage the tooth and crowns require removal of healthy portions of your tooth, inlays and onlays repair and improve the quality of your tooth without requiring extensive drilling and excision of a healthy tooth. Depending on the extent of the damage to your tooth, we here at Wendy Sanger DMD Cosmetic + Family Dentistry will help you decide between a dental inlay or onlay and determine which one will best benefit you.
The Difference Between Dental Inlays and Dental Onlays
For many patients with advanced tooth decay, we often advise dental crowns to help restore the damaged tooth. However, for patients who have a moderate amount of damage or decay, but aren't able or interested in the crowns, dental inlays and onlays can save the day - and your tooth!
There are several key differences between dental inlays and onlays, and depending upon your particular situation, you may decide to choose one versus the other.
Dental inlays are a great option for patients who have damage or decay on their tooth cusps (the bump on the back of your teeth). Because they can match the color of your tooth, they often look quite natural. They are ideal for smaller surface areas. Usually having an inlay fitted takes two appointments, including casting mold and fitting it to your tooth. Dental inlays are very durable and don't expand or shrink when exposed to heat or cold, making them safer for your teeth. Because of how strong they are, they can last for years, possibly the lifetime of your smile.
Dental onlays are also a fantastic option for patients with tooth decay and can look like your real tooth as well. Occasionally called "partial crowns," they function quite similarly to inlays, but the major difference between the two is the location of the onlay. While inlays typically are used in smaller areas, onlays can be used on larger dental regions. While inlays encompass less than one cusp of a tooth, onlays encompass one or more cusps of a tooth. These also do not shrink or expand when exposed to fluctuating temperatures, helping protect your tooth from breaking.
Both dental onlays and inlays can be comprised of a variety of materials, depending on the area of the procedure and the preference of the patient.
The three primary materials we use in our office for onlays and inlays include porcelain, composite resin, and gold. Porcelain and composite resin both allow you to preserve as much of your existing tooth as possible and can match your existing teeth, giving a more natural look. Gold tends to be stronger, but because of its color, it may not be best in areas where it can be visible.
If you have tooth decay and are concerned about repairing it, but you don't want to consider a crown, then perhaps a dental onlay or inlay can be the answer to your dental problems. If you have questions about onlays or inlays, or you're ready to schedule your dental exam, please give us here at Wendy Sanger DMD Cosmetic + Family Dentistry a call at (908) 647-4441 and allow us to help answer your questions or get you started on moving forward with inlays or onlays.