Dental inlays and onlays provide a unique approach when it comes to repairing teeth that need more than a filling, but don’t quite need the extensive coverage of a full crown. Instead, inlays and onlays (also called “three-quarter crowns”) can restore badly damaged teeth while also enforcing the integrity of the remaining tooth structure so that it can function normally.
In the past, inlays and onlays were typically made of gold. Now they are also available in porcelain, which allows them to match the rest of the tooth’s color and make the tooth appear whole once again. Unlike crowns, inlays and onlays have margins that are flush with the surrounding tooth structure, making them easier to clean around.
The inlay and onlay treatment process is very similar to that used for a crown. During the first appointment the tooth is prepped and any damaged enamel is removed. An impression is then taken of the tooth and sent to the laboratory where the custom, hand-made restoration is created. A temporary restoration is placed in or over the tooth for about two weeks as this is completed. The patient then returns to have their custom inlay or onlay permanently bonded into place. Each restoration lasts for several years, the way a filling or crown would.
Not everyone is a candidate for inlays and onlays, but it’s an excellent option to ask your dentist about if you already know that a filling isn’t an option. Your dentist will assess the tooth’s shape, areas that are compromised, and determine whether or not an inlay or onlay is an option for you. If you’re trying to avoid a crown, don’t put your treatment off any longer – ask your dentist about inlays and onlays today!
Posted on behalf of:
Dr. David Kurtzman D.D.S.
611 Campbell Hill St. NW #101
Marietta, GA 30060
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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