Dental inlays and onlays are somewhere between fillings and crowns, applied when a tooth at the back of the mouth has moderate decay or damage. A smaller cavity would receive a filling, and in the case of greater damage, a crown would be used.
When a cavity is too large to be filled with a traditional filling, inlays or onlays are used. These tooth pieces are made of pressed ceramics, porcelain, composite resin or gold. Whether an inlay or an onlay is needed depends on the size and location of the cavity. Inlays are put between the cusps while onlays are larger and cover the cusps.
What are the advantages of inlays/onlays?
They are prepared under a microscope so their shape can perfectly match, providing for full reconstruction and perfect aesthetics. With the exception of gold, all the other materials are tooth-coloured.
They are also perfect for replacing older metal fillings. In contrast to metal fillings, they do not change in shape or size while exposed to changes in temperature. They are also more stable and last longer. Instead of weakening, they even strengthen the tooth in question.
What is the process of the inlay placement?
The completion of inlays requires two dental visits:
1st visit: With local anaesthesia, the decayed area is exposed using a drill. The infected tissue is removed and the tooth is prepared to receive the inlay or onlay. Then a tooth impression is obtained and sent to the dental lab where technicians will fabricate the inlay. Until it is prepared, an easy-to-remove temporary gum-like filling material is placed over the tooth.
2nd visit: After the removal of the temporary inlay, the permanent one is fitted to the cavity and cemented in place.
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