You don't have to be embarrassed by dental damage. Restorative dentistry treatments, like inlays and onlays, can treat dental damage while also improving appearance so you can smile with confidence. Inlays and onlays are a great option for improving dental appearance and function. They can even be used to replace old metal fillings to create a flawless smile. To find out more about inlays and onlays and how they can improve your smile, read this overview from Charlotte cosmetic dentists John M. Pinnix and George A. Betancourt.
What Are Inlays and Onlays?
Inlays and onlays are types of dental restorations used to treat dental damage and improve dental appearance. Both inlays and onlays are used to treat dental decay, repair fractures, or replace old metal fillings. Though inlays and onlays can be made of gold, most are made of tooth-colored materials, including composite resin or porcelain. Composite resin and porcelain can be custom-shaded to match the surrounding teeth for a seamless blend. Though inlays and onlays are used in similar ways, there are some slight differences between the two restorations.
- Inlays: Inlays are used to treat tooth decay isolated to the cusps, which are the bumpy structures on the biting surface of the molars.
- Onlays: Onlays are used when decay or damage is more severe, extending beyond one or more cusps. Onlays are sometimes called partial crowns as they can be used to repair partially broken or fractured teeth, specifically when most of the tooth is healthy enough not to require a full dental crown.
The Treatment Process for Inlays and Onlays
Traditionally, the treatment process for inlays and onlays required two dental visits. The first to take an impression of the teeth to be sent to a dental lab to craft the inlay or onlay, and the second to place the finished restoration. Using CEREC® technology, Drs. Pinnix and Betancourt are able to custom-make inlays and onlays in-office so treatment can be completed in a single visit.
The Benefits of Inlays and Onlays
There are many benefits to inlays and onlays, including:
- Improved appearance: Inlays and onlays are tooth-colored restorations that seamlessly blend with the surrounding tooth, leading to a flawless, improved dental appearance.
- Restore oral health: Untreated dental damage will lead to bigger, more painful dental issues. Inlays and onlays treat dental damage, including decay and fractures, to restore oral health.
- Prevent further dental damage: As stated above, untreated dental damage leads to bigger dental health problems. Inlays and onlays treatment can prevent dental damage from progressing.
- Restore dental strength: Inlays and onlays are directly bonded to the teeth, improving dental strength.
- Durable: Both composite resin and porcelain are durable materials, making inlays and onlays last for years.
- Prevents damage caused by silver fillings: Traditional silver metal fillings are actually harmful to the teeth. Over time, they can discolor the teeth to a gray tint and cause the teeth to crack. This is because silver amalgam used in fillings expands and contracts with temperature changes. The constant expansion and contraction can cause silver fillings to fall out, or worse, break the teeth. The materials used to make inlays and onlays don't fluctuate in size like silver fillings, making them safer for your teeth.
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