Inlays & Onlays
Federal Way, WA
Many types of tooth decay can be repaired with a basic conventional dental filling, but what happens when a tooth has been severely injured or has a more advanced degree of decay? On the other hand, sometimes a tooth needs professional medical attention from us but is not a good candidate for a dental crown. When a tooth needs more intensive care than a conventional dental filling can provide, but it has not been damaged enough to justify a crown, then we here at Tran Family Dentistry & Associates may advise a routine dental procedure known as a dental inlay or a dental onlay to help repair the tooth.
What is a Dental Inlay and Onlay and How Can They Help Me?
Knowing the difference between a dental inlay and a dental onlay, and how they stand apart from crowns and fillings, is key to understanding how they work and how they are beneficial. A dental filling is usually comprised of a variety of materials, typically amalgam or porcelain. These are also known as direct fillings because they are placed directly into the site as we work on it. Crowns are also a good option for some patients who may be at risk of losing a tooth due to injury or severe decay, but they are also different from an inlay and an onlay in that they cover the entire tooth and not just part of it.
Dental inlays and onlays are also called indirect fillings because they can address more severe tooth decay, but they are manufactured outside of the mouth. Once they are prepared, we can bond them to the affected site using dental cement. We are then able to cure them using a special type of ultraviolet light. This makes them stronger and sturdier in your mouth.
How They Differ
Dental inlays differ from onlays in that they are used on just one bump or point of your tooth, called a cusp. They work best on a smaller surface of your tooth. We generally like to use either gold, porcelain, or composite resin for an inlay. It is important to note that the material we use is largely dependent upon the location of the affected tooth. A more visible front tooth will benefit more from porcelain or composite resin, as this material is tooth-colored. A molar, however, may benefit better from gold. The choice is ultimately yours, however.
An onlay works when more than one cusp is affected by tooth decay. Furthermore, when the entire surface of your tooth has severe tooth decay, we may also advise an onlay. Unlike inlays, onlays are better on larger areas that need repair and filling. Again, the location of the tooth will be a major deciding factor in what type of material that we use on your onlay. However, despite how strong and sturdy gold is, more and more patients are asking for porcelain because of how natural it looks. This is a great option as it is stronger than composite resin but still looks attractive.
If you are suffering from advanced tooth decay, you may be a good candidate for a dental inlay or onlay. To learn more about this procedure, or to schedule an appointment with us here at Tran Family Dentistry & Associates, please give us a call today at (206) 212-0394!