Dental Inlays and Onlays
The long-term health of your teeth is our primary concern here at Nancy Shiba, DDS. When your teeth suffer damage because of traumatic injury or long-term tooth decay, we can set things right with one of our restorative dental options. One such option is dental inlays and onlays, which we can use to restore your teeth to their natural beauty and function. Inlays and onlays are one of the least frequently used dental restorations so many people do not fully understand what they are used for and how they help teeth, so below you will find a comprehensive guide to dental inlays and onlays.
What is a dental inlay or onlay?
Many times, inlays and onlays are called indirect fillings, because they function in much the same way a filling does (to repair damage to the tooth), but it is applied to the tooth after it is made. Dental fillings are made using clay like resins that are placed into a drilled tooth, made permanent after being molded directly into the structure of the tooth. Inlays and onlays are made using an impression we take of your tooth and are placed into the structure of the tooth after being crafted.
Before describing the differences between inlays and onlays, it is important to understand what the cusp of a tooth is. The most and least prominent points on a tooth are referred to as a cusp. When talking about canine or other “front” tooth, they have a single cusp. When talking about bicuspids, or pre-molars, they have two cusps. Finally, molars have either four or five cusps.
A dental inlay is used when the structure of the tooth that is being replaced falls within the bounds of one cusp.
A dental onlay is used when the structure of the tooth that is being replaced includes one or more cusps.
How Inlays and Onlays Are Beneficial
There are a wide variety of benefits to having an inlay or onlay placed instead of a filling or bonding agent. Many dentists still use amalgam to perform dental fillings. Amalgam is the silver-colored material that sticks out like a sore thumb in your smile and requires lots of your healthy tooth to be removed. Inlays and onlays can be crafted to looks just like your real teeth.
Where fillings have a tendency to weaken the structural integrity of your teeth, inlays and onlays end up strengthening your teeth by up to 75%.
Inlays and onlays work by restoring the chewing surfaces of your tooth. They can be crafted from a variety of materials. Materials that are commonly used to create inlays and onlays are:
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