Understanding the Benefits of Inlays and Onlays

Understanding the Benefits of Inlays and Onlays

If you’re dealing with tooth decay, you may think that the resulting cavity needs a filling or possibly a crown. But fillings and crowns aren’t the sole options to treat the gaps in your tooth caused by dental decay and cavities.

When a filling isn’t enough to restore an area of dental decay but a crown is unnecessary, alternative treatment like an inlay or an onlay may be exactly what you need. As a restorative dentistry expert who specializes in cement bondingDr. Benjamin Wang offers inlay and onlay restorations at Centerport Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry in Portland, Oregon. 

Read on to learn more about the benefits of inlays and onlays and understand when Dr. Wang uses them.

Inlay and onlay restorations

When a dentist removes an area of decay from one of your teeth, they must fill and protect the resulting cavity. When a cavity is small, a direct filling made of amalgam or composite resin is the quickest and most effective way to restore dental strength and structure. When decay is deep or tooth structure is more compromised, a crown is usually the best restorative solution.

However, if the decay and resulting cavity are too big for a conventional filling, but not big enough to warrant a full protective crown, dental inlay or onlay can be the perfect fit to repair the gap and restore structure.

What are inlays?

Dr. Wang uses inlay to fill mid-sized cavities within the inner area of a tooth or the part between its points (cusps). Made of enamel-colored ceramic or porcelain, an inlay is a single, solid piece that’s made to fit the exact shape and size of the empty space. It’s then cemented into place to form a tight, impenetrable bond with the tooth.

What are onlays? 

Onlay restorations are also made to fill mid-sized central cavities. Like inlays, they’re a single, solid piece of ceramic or porcelain made to fit the exact size and shape of the hollow. 

However, unlike inlays, onlays stretch out across the tooth's chewing surface to repair one or more of its damaged cusps. Dr. Wang ensures the top part of the onlay restores the partially damaged surface area, replicates your natural tooth shape, and fits your bite. 

Advantages of inlays and onlays 

Just as there are some instances when a filling is the best treatment choice for a cavity, there are certain circumstances that demand a full crown restoration. But when it comes to repairing those in-between dental cavities and hollows, inlays and onlays offer several major benefits:

Structural integrity

With their durable material and exacting fit, inlays and onlays fortify the structure of your tooth to improve its strength and durability. The bonding process reinforces your tooth’s structural integrity, which helps the restorations form a tight, supportive seal with your tooth.

Exceptional durability 

Inlays and onlays are durable, long-lasting restorations that create a more hardwearing chew surface than standard fillings. They also don’t contract over time like a filling might, so there’s much less chance that a gap will develop between an inlay or onlay and its surrounding tooth structure. 

Protective longevity 

Both inlays and onlays preserve a stronger, healthier tooth structure than fillings and crowns. This helps extend the life of your tooth and minimizes the risk of further damage and decay in the future, reducing the chances that you need further dental treatments down the road.

Natural aesthetics

Although early inlay and onlay restorations were often made of gold, today’s inlays and onlays are designed to match the color of your tooth enamel for seamless, natural-looking results so people notice your smile, not your dental work. 

Same-day inlays and onlays

In many dental practices, getting an inlay or onlay requires two appointments: one visit for taking an impression of the area and installing a temporary restoration, and a second visit for fitting the permanent restoration once it arrives from the fabricating dental lab.

Here at Centerport Cosmetic & Implant Dentistry, we offer same-day custom inlay, onlay, and crown restorations using advanced CEREC® technology. In just a single visit that lasts about two hours, Dr. Wang can repair and protect your tooth with a durable, long-lasting restoration that strengthens your tooth and doesn’t diminish your beautiful smile. 

To learn more about the many benefits of inlays and onlays, call 503-447-8036 or book online to schedule an appointment with Dr. Wang today. 

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