Inlays and Onlays: The Quickest Way to Repair Damaged Teeth

Inlays and Onlays: The Quickest Way to Repair Damaged Teeth

Apr 01, 2021

Have you ever had minor tooth damage due to decay and were recommended to get inlays instead of fillings? Or have you had a tooth that has had significant damage but not enough to warrant a crown?

Inlays vs. Onlays: What’s the Difference?

Inlays are the appropriate solution when your tooth has suffered minimal damage. They are used as a substitute when a filling would be inadequate to strengthen the tooth after the decayed part is removed. Inlays are bonded on the chewing surface of the damaged tooth. They do not affect the tooth’s cusps. However, they fit perfectly within the hollow of the tooth.

Inlays can be made from porcelain or composite resin. They are sturdier than traditional fillings because of the material used to fabricate them. The only downside is that they can be more costly than fillings, but they are worth the money.

Onlays are recommended if there is significant damage to the tooth’s cusps and biting surface, and a filling would be too small to fill the space. With a filling, there is a chance that the tooth will crack since teeth become weak when a significant portion has been removed due to decay.

An onlay would be the perfect fit in these situations as it can cover the chewing surface and the tooth’s cusps. This is what earns onlays the name “partial crowns.” They are designed to do the same job as crowns. However, crowns cover the whole tooth, while onlays only cover a section of the tooth.

Inlays and onlays are at times referred to as indirect fillings. Our dentist will have them fabricated in the lab, unlike traditional fillings that are placed directly into the space left after a cavity has been removed.

Types of Inlays and Onlays

For a long time, inlays and onlays were created from gold. But with the advancements in dentistry, you now have the option to pick from various materials. Some options include:

  • Composite

These types of dental inlay and onlay are made from acrylic and powdered glass. They look like your teeth and are aesthetically pleasing. Our dentist will use a shade guide to pick out the color that will blend in with the rest of your teeth.

The only issue with inlays and onlays made from composite is that the material is not stain-resistant. It is also not as malleable as porcelain.

  • Gold

As mentioned earlier, gold was the preferred material for a long time. This is because gold is sturdy and can last long. They will not crack when you chew food and are also wear-resistant. They last longer than porcelain and composite inlays and onlays.

The only problem is that some people don’t find gold aesthetically pleasing.

  • Porcelain

Ceramic or porcelain inlays and onlays blend in seamlessly with natural teeth. They are also stain-resistant, meaning that you will not need teeth whitening for them.

When Should You Get Inlays and Onlays?

At times, you may have done all you could to keep your teeth in tip-top shape, but accidents happen, and teeth can be damaged. However, you may need to get inlays and onlays if:

  • The damage to your teeth hasn’t affected the cusps.
  • The damage to your teeth is extensive enough that a filling will not do the job and would affect the structural integrity of your teeth.
  • The damage to your teeth is not too severe to warrant the removal of significant material to create space for a dental crown.

If you need inlays and onlays, contact our dentist at Wellesley Dental Arts on Washington Street.

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