Inlays and Onlays

Treat tooth decay in Stockton CA

What are inlays and onlays?

Inlays and Onlays can often be used in place of traditional dental fillings to treat tooth decay or similar structural damage. Inlays and onlays are similar to a filling but are used when a more durable material is desired for longevity. An inlay or onlay can be made of porcelain, gold or composite resin. The material is bonded to the damaged area of the tooth. An inlay is typically adhered inside the cusp tips of the tooth, whereas an onlay is used for more substantial reconstructions. An onlay is designed to extend beyond one or more of the cusps of the tooth. It is designed to strengthen a tooth by wrapping around the cusps to avoid splitting or fracturing a weakened cusp.

Traditional dental fillings are usually molded into place within the mouth during a dental visit; whereas inlays and onlays are prefabricated in a dental lab before being fitted and bonded to the damaged tooth by a dentist. Traditionally, gold has been the substance of choice for inlays and onlays because of its strength and durability. However, porcelain has become increasingly popular. Not only is it strong, it offers color options to better match the natural shade of your teeth.

What are the benefits of inlays and onlays?

Inlays are a more durable restoration than a hand filled restoration. In deep areas below the gumline, a gold inlay can be fitted to the tooth with great precision and seal the tooth completely. An onlay is also a more durable restoration but it has the benefit of covering and protecting one or more weakened cusps.

Another benefit of inlays and onlays is preservation of tooth structure. When the tooth does not need the whole tooth prepped for strength and retention, the inlay or onlay can restore the defective part of the tooth and preserve much of the original tooth structure. 

What are the types of inlays and onlays and the benefits of each?

Gold and resin inlays are the most conservative as they can go into a smaller cavity to restore a tooth. Gold inlays and onlays are the most durable material and have a similar wear factor to enamel. Thus they will last longer and will not wear down the opposing tooth. Gold is still the “gold standard”.

You might ask, what if I don’t want gold and I want it to look like a tooth? One option is a resin inlay or onlay, which was used often in years past but the durability was not as strong as porcelain and are used less frequently today. Another option is a porcelain inlay or onlay. The advantage is they can be matched more closely to the tooth color and still preserve much of the tooth that is present. The strength comes from the material and the bond to the tooth which is under the restoration. Some inlays and onlays are milled in office allowing the patient to have the restoration done in one visit. These are typically more expensive than a resin restoration.

How many appointments do I need for the procedure?

An inlay or onlay procedure may require two separate dental appointments, one to remove decay/damage and create an impression of the tooth, and one to place the inlay or outlay. Newer scanning and milling devices can allow some inlays and onlays to be done in one visit in office. The one visit milled inlays and onlays tend to be a little more one color (monochromatic) whereas inlays and onlays created in a lab from an experienced technician can be more life-like and esthetically have a greater beauty to the restoration.

What happens at the first visit at Deer Park Dental?

Your first visit will be an exam and appropriate x-rays along with periodontal probings. If cavities are present, stabilization of the tooth and periodontal structures are recommended first. Once the tissue is healthy then it is time to proceed with the structural and esthetic components of tooth restorations.

What happens at my visit for an inlay or onlay?

At Deer Park Dental, the first visit for an inlay and onlay involves numbing the tooth and adjacent tissues, preparation of the tooth with filling and caries removal, impression of the prepared tooth and temporization of the missing tooth structure. An impression of the opposing teeth will be made to create a restoration that will fit well with the existing bite or occlusion. This visit will range from one to two hours.

The second dental visit at Deer Park Dental will be to numb the tooth if sensitive (some patients chose to have cementation without anesthetic). The temporary is removed, the tooth is cleaned and prepared for cementation or bonding with different chemicals. When a restoration is being bonded then a rubber dam is often placed to isolate the area from moisture and any contaminants for a better seal of the restoration. The bite will be checked and verified as well as the contacts and color prior to cementation.

What can I expect after I receive Inlays or Onlays?

Inlays and onlays are a strong and stable option for minimal tooth reconstruction or filling. Regular brushing and flossing, as well as regular dental checkups, should be continued after the procedure is complete.

Who is typically a good candidate?

  • Patients who do not have deep root cavities are a good candidate for porcelain onlays. If the cavity on the root is deeper, a gold restoration is more ideal.
  • Gold is a better restoration for someone who is a bruxer (grinds their teeth) or someone who wants a more long lasting restoration.

How long do they last?

  • Porcelain is a weaker material and is more susceptible to fracture. If one is a bruxer, it is not recommended in the farthest back teeth. As you move forward to the front teeth, the forces of chewing are less and are at less risk of fracture. Porcelain crowns can last five to ten years or longer but they can also be at risk of fracture and can chip in a shorter period of time with undue forces.
  • Gold is very strong and can last a lifetime. If a cavity starts next to a gold or porcelain restoration, that can necessitate replacing the restoration. Good oral hygiene and diet is critical to extending the life of a restoration.

What should I expect after my procedure?

Some teeth will be sensitive for cold or hot briefly after being placed. This sensitivity is generally gone within a couple of months. Otherwise, the restoration should feel smooth and like a natural tooth. These restoration can restore the damaged teeth and provide a beautiful smile.

Schedule a Consultation

Call Deer Park Dental at (209) 478-3036 for a consultation today to see what is right for you!