Dental inlays and onlays are another way to restore the full function of your tooth without necessarily covering it with a traditional, full coverage crown. Inlays and onlays are especially useful for teeth that are too damaged or decayed for a filling to be functional or effective. Rather, inlays and onlays cover up to 3/4 of a tooth’s surface, giving it just enough stability to return to normal use, but also maximizing the amount of natural tooth structure that is still healthy.
Sometimes these restorations are called “three quarter crowns” because the treatment process is very similar and it covers about that amount of the tooth. The tooth is first prepped by removing existing decay or damage, and shaped for the support of a fixed restoration. An impression is taken of the tooth and then sent off to a dental lab where the final restoration is designed and custom-shaded to match the rest of the tooth. A temporary filling material or crown may be placed inside of or over the tooth for up to two weeks while the permanent restoration is being fabricated. Once completed, the patient will return and the inlay/onlay is tried in and permanently cemented into place.
Inlays and onlays can be made of tooth-colored porcelain or gold materials. Gold can be useful for posterior teeth that don’t show when you talk or smile, but porcelain offers a much more aesthetic option. The restorations can last for several years and allow your tooth to function normally, just the way a filling or crown would.
If you have questions about inlays or onlays, or know that you’re past the point of needing a filling but aren’t sure if you can get out of having a crown done, then schedule an appointment with your dentist to talk about this effective treatment today.
Posted on behalf of Mitzi Morris, DMD, PC
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