Inlays and Onlays
Dental inlays and onlays are an alternative to a crown or a filling. A filling is typically used to fill in smaller cavities, while a crown is used for larger tooth decay and fractures. However, inlays and onlays are what our professionals at Roth Family Dentistry use when you need something larger than a filling but do not need to have something as large as a crown. Inlays and onlays provide an option between a crown and a filling. They help keep your tooth intact while still fixing any holes in your tooth.
What Is the Difference Between an Inlay and Onlay?
Inlays and onlays have a small margin of difference and are used according to our staff’s recommendation. An inlay helps fill in cavities between the cusps of your molars. An onlay also fills in these gaps, but they also extend over the cusps of the teeth. They are like a crown but do not require the tooth to be completely covered. The purpose of an inlay or onlay is to ensure the tooth is covered properly and protected from tooth decay in the future.
Inlays and Their Purposes
Inlays are usually created out of either composite resin or porcelain, which is more durable and reliable when compared to a traditional filling. Our staff will mold your inlay from impressions of your surrounding teeth to obtain an accurate match to the shape of your tooth. The impressions are sent off to a lab to create the inlay, so you will probably have to come back for a second visit to have the inlay placed. Once you return, we will fit the inlay into your mouth and make any necessary alterations to ensure the inlay fits comfortably and securely on your tooth. The color of the inlay will closely resemble that of your natural teeth to make it blend in when you smile and laugh. Inlays are chosen when our staff determines a filling will not be sufficient for your tooth.
Onlays and Their Purposes
Onlays are usually created from the same porcelain or composite resin material as inlays. They not only fill in any holes you have from a cavity, but they also cover the biting surface of your tooth. We will recommend an onlay when your cavity is too big for a traditional filling and the tooth is susceptible to cracking from being too weak. An onlay adds protection from future tooth decay and strengthens the tooth to prevent any damage to it.
After cleaning out the cavity, we will make an impression of a nearby tooth and have it sent to a lab to be created. We will place a temporary onlay, which may be slightly uncomfortable, until your permanent onlay is created. This process is like a crown but does not require us to shave off as much of your tooth. Onlays allow you to keep the structure and integrity of your existing tooth. It is often called a partial crown since the process and function is very similar to a regular crown.
If you think you may have a large cavity but do not want to have a crown, our staff at Roth Family Dentistry can help determine if an inlay or onlay is a viable solution for you. Call our office today at 406-728-2745 to schedule a dental exam so we can discuss your options.