Dental Inlays and Onlays: Procedure, Types, and Risks

Dental Inlays and Onlays: Procedure, Types, and Risks

Apr 01, 2021

When you have a damaged tooth, you have several cosmetic dental solutions to choose from. You can opt for dental fillings, crowns, or tooth inlays and onlays. For patients who have lost more than half of their tooth structure, dental inlays and onlays provide a much more effective and lasting treatment.

Besides repairing your damaged tooth, inlays and onlays protect your tooth against further damage. They are also very long-lasting and can last for up to 30 years if well cared for. Besides, they add strength to your tooth, restoring up to 75% of its natural strength and functionality.

Who’s a Good Candidate for Inlays and Onlays?

When you visit your dentist, they will examine your mouth to determine whether you’re eligible for a dental inlay or onlay procedure. Your dentist is most likely to recommend a tooth inlay or onlay if you have severe tooth decay or a damaged tooth that can’t be repaired using a filling. If fitted well and in time, dental inlays and onlays can save your tooth, preventing the need for tooth extraction and additional dental procedures in the future.

How Are Dental Inlays & Onlays Performed?

A dental inlay or onlay procedure is performed in a dental practice. While the process may vary based on the type of inlays and onlays, it typically involves the following steps:

  • The dentist will ask you to sit in the dentist’s chair. A clear shield may be provided to protect your eyes from dental tools and spraying liquids.
  • The dentist will numb the site to prevent pain.
  • The dentist will remove the damaged part of the tooth, then clean and disinfect the tooth.
  • The dentist will make an impression of the tooth, which is used to make the permanent inlay or onlay.
  • For direct inlays and onlays, the dentist will make the permanent inlay or onlay right then in the office. When ready, the dentist will place and cement the inlay or onlay on the tooth.
  • If the dentist doesn’t have the equipment, they will send the impression to a laboratory. In such cases, the dentist will have to put a temporary inlay or onlay on the tooth and send you home.
  • Once the permanent inlay or onlay is made, you’ll return to the dentist for the final procedure. Here, the dentist will remove the temporary inlay or onlay and fix the permanent one with strong adhesive.
  • After placing the inlay or onlay, the dentist smoothens and polishes the inlay or onlay to make it safe for your mouth and ensure a comfortable bite.

Types of Dental Inlays and Onlays

Dental inlays and onlays are categorized into two types: direct and indirect.

  • Direct Inlays and Onlays

Direct inlays and onlays are made in your dentist’s office and are usually fitted in a single appointment.

  • Indirect Inlays and Onlays

Indirect inlays and onlays are made in a laboratory setting. On the first day of the procedure, the dentist takes an impression of the tooth and sends it to a laboratory to create the permanent inlay or onlay. The permanent inlay or onlay is then fitted during a second appointment.

Is a Dental Inlay and Onlay Painful?

During the procedure, the dentist will numb the area so that you won’t feel any pain. However, after the anesthetic wears off, you may feel minimal pain and discomfort in the mouth. Your dentist may give you painkillers to manage the discomfort. Immediately contact your dentist if the discomfort persists, even after taking medication.

Risks of Dental Inlays and Onlays

Getting an inlay or onlay is considered safe with very minimal side effects and risks. In rare cases, complications may develop, either during the procedure or recovery. These may include:

  • Anesthetic complications.
  • Allergic reactions to an inlay or onlay, which may be caused by the type of inlay or onlay material used.
  • Ill-fitted and damaged inlays or onlays can cause or worsen tooth decay
  • Severe mouth pain.
  • Extreme sensitivity to heat and cold.
  • Bleeding gums.
  • Injury to the mouth structures such as teeth, gums, and tongue.

Ready to restore your dental health with inlays or onlays? Schedule your consultation today with Wellesley Dental Arts.

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