While fillings can be used to fix minor cavities, dental crowns are the preferred treatment for more severe cases. What about dental issues that are neither serious nor mild? Here is where inlays and onlays come in. Get in touch with us at Washington Dental in Lomita to see if inlays or outlays are ideal for your treatment.

A Brief Overview of Dental Inlays and Onlays

Many people are familiar with different kinds of dental prostheses including crowns, veneers, and implants. However, few have any understanding of what onlays and inlays are. The names come from the locations where they are typically used. Here's an in-depth comparison of these two dental restorations.

Dental Inlays

Dental inlays are used when your tooth has sustained significant damage, is unable to support normal filing, and lacks the strength required for a dental crown. Inlays are typically positioned between the cusps of the chewing surface.

Inlays are sometimes called indirect fillings because they are fabricated in a dental lab and then fitted in a dental office. Inlays made of porcelain are typically preferred by dentists over composite resin inlays because they are more invisible.

Dental Onlays

If your teeth have sustained significant damage, your dentist may recommend dental onlays. Onlays are a restorative dentistry option between large fillings and crowns. They are utilized when a tooth's cusp or cusps, rather than the chewing surface, have been damaged. Patients prefer onlays because they can be used to protect and strengthen teeth without the need for a crown.

Comparing Inlays and Onlays

You may be wondering what distinguishes inlays from onlays. Inlays are custom-made replacements for decayed or damaged areas of teeth's chewing surfaces. They take a mold of the damaged area. That is why they are taken to a lab to be manufactured. An inlay is custom-made to fit into the space of a tooth without altering the tooth's natural cusps.

When taking an impression, dentists typically make an effort to replicate the patient's natural tooth color as closely as possible. For this reason, the inlays tend to go unnoticed once they have been positioned within the mouth. Inlays are usually made from composite material or porcelain, both of which are more durable and long-lasting than conventional fillings. As a result, inlays can be quite pricey, but they tend to last quite a while.

Onlays, on the other hand, are used to restore the chewing surface and cusps of teeth that have been damaged by decay. Dental onlays are typically used by dentists for severely damaged teeth that can't fit regular amalgam fillings, as was previously discussed.

To prevent further decay, onlays cover the affected area and strengthen the tooth. This region, unlike inlays, may also include the tooth's cusps and the spaces between them. The process of preparing an onlay is very similar to that of preparing a filling.

After the patient's mouth has been numbed, the cavity will be drilled and the surrounding region cleaned. After that, your dental professional will set a temporary onlay on top of the tooth cavity to make an impression. This impression is going to be taken to the lab so that the permanent onlay can be made.

Composite materials and porcelain are also used to make onlays. Onlays are sometimes called "partial crowns" by dentists because they play a comparable role to crowns even though they partially cover the tooth.

Who is a Good Candidate for Inlays and Onlays?

Inlays and onlays are used on teeth that have suffered significant damage, beyond the scope of a simple filling but still not enough to necessitate a crown. Inlays and onlays are only an option if you have enough healthy tooth structure to allow for dental restorations.

If you would like your smile to last a lifetime, it's important to preserve as much of your natural dental structure as you can. These two kinds of dental work are less invasive than a crown.

Patients who choose this kind of tooth restoration need to be dedicated to maintaining good, healthy dental hygiene practices. It's essential to wash your teeth twice each day, floss at least once every day, and go to the dentist regularly.

While onlays and inlays can be a great solution for many people, they aren't right for everybody. For example, if you've got a major cavity, your dental professional could suggest a crown. A crown can cover your entire tooth or teeth to protect them from further harm and strengthen the tooth or teeth.

The Benefits of Inlays and Onlays

If you need extensive dental work done, consider getting an inlay or onlay instead of a filling. These two kinds of dental restorations also have plenty of other significant benefits. Some of the advantages of getting them are outlined below.

Conservative Restorations

When compared to dental crowns, onlays, and inlays are less invasive options for restoring damaged teeth. When compared with the volume of tooth structure lost when placing a crown, they allow dentists to save more of the patient's natural tooth.

Increases Strength and Longevity

Tooth fillings are typically made of amalgam or composite resin, while onlays and inlays are more frequently made of porcelain. If cared for properly, porcelain has a long lifespan of between 20 and 30 years. However, composite resin has a much shorter lifespan of only 5 years.

Guarantees Natural-Looking Results

Typically, outdated and damaged amalgam restorations are replaced with onlays and inlays. Porcelain can be colored to match your surrounding teeth, perfectly simulating the gloss of your enamel. Because porcelain resists stains, you can rest assured that your dental restoration will look great for years to come.

A Restoration Procedure that Doesn't Break the Bank

The majority of dental insurance plans provide coverage for inlays and onlays. This enables you to save a portion of your money and utilize it to pay for other important expenses while fixing your smile.

Inlays and onlays cost more than fillings, but they last much longer and are therefore a good investment. It's a great way to prevent further damage to your teeth from cavities and other issues and to keep your smile looking great.

An Affordable Restoration Method with Better Margins

Amalgam fillings, for example, contract and expand when the temperature changes, which might weaken or fracture your tooth. Teeth with chips, fissures, or cracks are more likely to collect bacteria, which can then cause decay. Porcelain onlays and inlays maintain their original shape and size even when subjected to temperature changes. They are a better long-term solution because of their sturdy build.

Able to Complete a Single Appointment

If a dentist uses computer-assisted and computer-aided manufacturing technology, they can reconstruct a patient's teeth with Inlays or onlays in just one appointment. The system incorporates a computer program, a 3D imaging device, and a milling machine. As a result, you'll need fewer visits to the dentist and less time overall spent in the chair.

Easy to Maintain

There's no greater notable distinction between caring for your onlays or inlays and caring for your natural teeth. You'll still need to schedule routine dental appointments, brush, and floss. You should make an appointment with your dentist as early as you can if your inlays or onlays hurt, become loose, crack, or completely fall out.

Does Not Stain

When compared to composite resin fillings or silver amalgams, inlays and onlays do not discolor with time. Having silver amalgam placed in your mouth will typically leave a noticeable dark spot on the teeth.

The Procedure for Onlays and Inlays

A dental onlay and inlay procedure is carried out in a dental office or clinic. Procedures can vary depending on the tooth material being used. The typical procedure for the implantation of inlays or onlays requires two office visits which are as follows.

Teeth Cleaning and Preparations

If you have cavities or damage to a tooth, the dentist will utilize specialized dental equipment to get rid of the affected areas. Your tooth will subsequently be numbed by the dental professional using a local anesthetic to ensure your comfort throughout the treatment. During this procedure, they are going to make an effort to conserve as much of your original teeth as they can.

Making a Tooth Impression

The dentist will then place dental putty on the tooth to create a mold or impression. After the putty has dried, your dentist will have a dental lab create the onlays or inlays.

Placement of a Temporary Tooth

Your dentist can fit a temporary tooth to prevent damage. A temporary tooth prevents bacteria from entering the tooth and causing decay.

Further Cleaning and Preparation

At the beginning of the second visit, your tooth will be cleaned and prepped again. Your dental professional will next take out the temporary tooth and replace it with permanent onlays or inlays.

Restoration Bonding and Fitting

Before cementing your onlay or inlay with dental adhesive, your dentist needs to make sure that it fits perfectly. If everything fits properly, the dentist will skillfully polish it till it is as smooth as your actual teeth.

Inlays and Onlays Procedure Completed in a Single Appointment

If your dentist offers same-day repair services, he or she may suggest CEREC (Chairside Economical Restoration of Esthetic Ceramic) onlays and inlays as a way to fix your tooth. If you choose to go through with this method, you only need to schedule one appointment. It also eliminates the need for a temporary filling procedure or having to wait around in between scheduled appointments. Here's a rundown of what to anticipate from a restoration that can be completed in a single day:

  • Before obtaining a digital image of your teeth, the dentist will first clean and prepare your tooth.
  • They will use specialized computer software to create your inlays or onlays based on the dental model and send the dental impression to a dental milling machine.
  • Ceramic inlays and onlays can be fabricated while you wait in the dentist's office. Your teeth will be milled to the perfect shade and color to fit your smile.
  • Once it fits correctly, the inlays or onlays will be installed and attached.

Types of Onlays and Inlays

Patients have options when it comes to the materials chosen to create their onlays and inlays. They have the option of ceramic, composite, or gold. Below is a more detailed look at these components:

Gold Onlays and Inlays

Gold was traditionally used for onlays and inlays because of its high strength and durability. Gold dental restorations are less popular now than they were before the advent of tooth-colored alternatives.

Gold dental inlays are increasingly being used in dental cavities that have sustained multiple fractures. Ceramic and composite inlays could be utilized for cosmetic purposes, even though they have a greater possibility of breaking.

Gold inlays are preferable because they are durable, they hardly ever crack or break, are extremely strong, and can be shaped in a wide range of ways. On the other hand, gold inlays do not appear like real teeth. They are much more costly than other alternatives.

Inlays and Onlays Made of Porcelain or Ceramic

A tooth restoration made of porcelain can be customized to look like natural teeth in terms of shape, color, and function. It has several benefits, including:

  • It is a resilient and durable material.
  • Resistant to stains.
  • Complements your actual teeth.
  • It doesn't break like conventional fillers.

Inlays and onlays have some drawbacks, including the following:

  • Less durable than gold.
  • There's a likelihood of sustaining fractures when under persistent pressure.

Composite Resin Onlays and Inlays

Onlays and Inlays made of composite material are utilized for filling dental cavities that are too big for conventional fillings. They make suitable replacements for ceramic and gold restorations. The following are some advantages of using composite resin:

  • Sturdier and less likely to break than conventional fillings.
  • Composite resin onlays and inlays are less durable than gold, not as malleable, and more resistant to stains.
  • Since they're tooth-colored, they complement your actual teeth perfectly.

The Preparation Process for an Inlays or Onlays

You don't need to follow any special preparation procedures before having an onlay or inlay procedure. However, if you take the time to weigh your options, you can increase your results and comfort throughout the procedure. When getting ready for your onlay or inlay restoration procedure, you should take the following important things into account:

  • Get ready to discuss your current and past medical conditions, as well as any drugs you might be taking. This consists of all of your prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, herbal remedies, and vitamins. Keep a note of your current prescriptions, as well as any medical conditions or allergies you have.
  • Take your prescription medications as directed.
  • Let your dentist know if you're expecting a child.

In addition, you should prepare yourself with pertinent questions that you'll ask your dentist to make the restoration process go more smoothly. Because dental onlays and inlays treatments are stressful, you may find that they cause you to forget a few of the essential questions that you ought to pose to your dentist. Some questions to bring up with your dental professional are listed below.

  • How much time will the procedure take to complete?
  • What are the limits I'll need to adhere to following the procedure? When should I start working, eating, and doing other activities again?
  • What alternatives do I have for my onlay and inlay materials?
  • What prescription drugs will I need to take before and following the procedure?
  • How can I manage my pain?
  • At what point in time should I get in touch with you again?
  • How will I reach you?
  • Do you take insurance for this procedure?

What to Anticipate After Your Inlay/Onlay Procedure

To be appropriately prepared for the onlay or inlay procedure, you must understand what to anticipate. It helps in getting back to normal life as quickly as possible. The following are certain things you should be prepared for:

Implications on Your Body After the Procedure

After getting a dental onlay or inlay, you may have some numbness in your gums, tongue, and mouth. This can be because local anesthesia takes some time to wane. Your teeth may be unusually sensitive to temperature changes, and you could also notice that your gum feels painful.

You may experience tooth sensitivity for a couple of days to several weeks following your surgery. If the symptoms intensify or last for an extended period, let your dentist know since it could be a serious issue.

What to Expect When You Get Home

After the dental onlay or inlay process is finished, you will most likely be free to go back home and to your routine as quickly as possible. If you've had a local anesthetic, your dentist may advise you to patiently wait for some time before consuming anything until the effects have worn off so that you can feel your mouth and tongue again.

When to Contact Your Dentist

Make sure that you keep up with your follow-up schedule following the restorative process. Nevertheless, if you've got any concerns in between checkups, you can contact your dentist. A few examples of situations in which you will need to make an appointment with the dentist are:

  • Your gums are hurting.
  • Fever.
  • Biting and chewing issues.
  • Tooth discomfort.

Take prompt action when your tongue begins to swell, you may have trouble breathing, scratch, or develop hives. An allergic response to the anesthetic used could cause symptoms such as running out of breath, heavy breathing, breathing problems, and wheezing.

Keep Up With Your Regular Dental Hygiene Routine

Inlays and onlays don't add anything new to your life. You must continue to practice everyday dental hygiene, which includes brushing and flossing. The majority of onlays and inlays have a lengthy lifespan and could last a maximum of thirty years. However, they do deteriorate over time. Make it a point to see your dentist no less than twice annually so that your restorations can continue to look and function well for years to come.

Possible Complications and Risks of Inlays and Onlays and How to Address Them

It is unusual to have problems with your dental onlays or inlays. However, complications can arise from any treatment at any moment, and they can be quite serious. Dental procedures and their subsequent recoveries are prone to complications. A few of the likely complications include:

  • An allergic response.
  • Composite inlays and/or onlays are susceptible to damage due to expansion and contraction.
  • Complications from anesthesia, such as blood vessel or nerve damage or an allergic reaction, can occur.
  • Dental decay might occur if the dental sealant wears off or damaged.
  • Injuries to the mouth or gums.
  • In addition, the damaged tooth may become hypersensitive to temperature changes. This happens when an inlay or onlay destroys and exposes the nerve endings of your tooth.

You can lower the possibility of issues in many different ways, including:

  • Observing all dietary, lifestyle, and other guidelines given both before and following the onlay or inlay procedure.
  • Notifying the dental professional right away if you experience discomfort, a fever, or prolonged issues with chewing.
  • Let your dentist know if you are pregnant or nursing.
  • Let your dental team know if you have a metal allergy.
  • Take the medications exactly as directed by your doctor.

Cost of Onlays and Inlays

The typical cost of an inlay or onlay is from two hundred fifty dollars to 1,500 dollars. The following factors could affect the cost:

  • How experienced the doctor is. Dentists with experience charge more because of their training and educational background.
  • The dental work being done.
  • Your location.
  • How big the inlay or onlay is.
  • The kinds of materials that are utilized in this procedure.

Find an Experienced General Dentist Near Me

If you're considering inlays or onlays, do not hesitate to get in touch with Washington Dental. Our team of skilled general dentists in Lomita, CA, is committed to assessing your dental issues and recommending the best course of action. Call us today at 310-326-5183 to set up an appointment.