Dental inlays and onlays are a type of dental restorations that is not used as frequently as other types of treatments such as fillings or crowns. Inlays and onlays are a great treatment option for teeth that have an area of need too large for a filling, but don’t quite need a dental crown.
Inlays and onlays fit directly into the tooth and can restore up to 3/4 of the tooth crown, which is much more than a normal dental filling can. Each inlay or onlay is custom fabricated in a dental laboratory similar to a crown. After the initial preparation of the tooth that removes the diseased enamel is performed, an impression will be taken of the prepared tooth. This impression is sent to the dental laboratory and a temporary filling material is placed in the tooth in the meantime. Within about 2 weeks the permanent restoration is complete and is then cemented into the tooth.
What makes dental inlays and onlays unique is that they help maintain as much natural tooth structure as possible without immediately going forward with a full crown on the tooth. This can in the long run help extend the full life of the tooth and delay more progressive treatments that come along as dental restorations wear out. Inlays and onlays are typically more expensive than traditional fillings and do require an additional dental appointment, but they are more affordable than porcelain crowns.
The material chosen for inlays and onlays can be made of porcelain to match the tooth surface or also made of gold, which is known for exceptional wearing capabilities on the back teeth.
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