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Inlays and Onlays

If you have a tooth that has sustained a moderate to severe level of decay or damage, a filling might not be the most suitable approach for repair.

While fillings are excellent for restoring small to moderate cavities, inlays and onlays are a stronger option to restore the structure of a tooth when the cavities are large.

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What are inlays and onlays?

Inlays and onlays are restorations custom made outside the mouth that specifically fit the size and shape of the cavity. Your dentist will recommend an inlay or onlay if you have significant tooth damage too large for a filling but not enough to justify a crown. They are typically made of either porcelain or a composite material, are much stronger than direct fillings and blend in naturally with the tooth.

Onlays are the larger of the two options. They cover the biting surface of your teeth, including one or both cusps. Your dentist will recommend an inlay if the damage is limited to the central part of the tooth and the cusps are intact.

Why would I need an inlay or onlay?

Your dentist may recommend an inlay or an onlay if:

  • Your tooth is decayed or damaged to the point that the remaining tooth structure is at a high risk of fracturing from normal function and eating, and a material stronger than a direct filling is needed.
  • The damage isn’t enough to warrant a crown.

Inlays are suitable when the cusps of a tooth are healthy and intact. In cases of more significant damage, onlays can help to repair some, or all, of the biting surface.

What is the procedure for fitting an inlay or onlay?

Inlays and onlays are custom-made pieces and usually require a single appointment for the fitting. During a regular check-up, your dentist will advise you why you require an inlay or onlay and discuss the procedure and material with you.

You will then be seen at a follow-up appointment where your dentist will remove the decay, clean the cavity and take an impression of the tooth that is going to be treated.

You will receive a temporary filling at this point to protect the tooth while the inlay or onlay is being manufactured in a laboratory.

Preparing your inlay or onlay will take approximately 1-2 weeks. At your final visit, the dentist will fit the inlay or onlay by bonding it to your tooth with a special adhesive that will secure it in place. Finally, your bite is checked to ensure it is comfortable.  

What are the benefits of inlays and onlays?

Inlays and onlays are an excellent restorative treatment that can help preserve the natural structure of your tooth. Following our philosophy of preventative dentistry, we will always aim to preserve your natural teeth when possible.

Will it take a long time to adjust to an inlay or onlay?

Inlays and onlays are custom-made, so they should fit naturally into your tooth. As with any dental work, an inlay or onlay may initially feel different in your mouth. This usually passes as you grow accustomed to the presence of your new inlay or onlay.

How long do inlays and onlays last?

The longevity of Inlays and Onlays depends on several different factors such as the amount and quality of the remaining tooth structure, oral hygiene, diet, grinding and clenching habits etc. However, with regular maintenance, inlays and onlays can last up to 10 years.

How do I maintain my inlays and onlays?

A good oral care routine and diet, and regular visits to your dentist and hygienist will help maintain your inlays and onlays ensuring your teeth stay healthier for longer.

At Platinum Dental Care, our goal is to keep your natural teeth healthy and help you to achieve the best possible comfort and confidence in your oral health.

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