Dental inlays and onlays are a form of indirect dental restoration that is developed in a dental laboratory as a single piece that fits the shape and size of the affected tooth. This method differs from direct repair, which is built inside the tooth being treated using glass ionomer, white composite, or amalgam (which is silver).

Dental inlays and onlays are used when previous fillings become worn out and need to be removed or replaced with new ones. These restorations are used when rear teeth are not fractured or decayed enough to necessitate a crown, but the damage is too much to be repaired with fillings.

Determining which restorative procedure suits your case starts with consulting with a qualified dentist for an examination of your oral issues. If you qualify for inlays and onlays, the dentist can still salvage a significant portion of your original tooth, making them healthier. Encino Dentist is highly experienced in indirect dental restoration, and we can perform any restorative treatment that suits you.

The Difference between Inlays and Onlays

The main difference between these indirect restorations is the amount and area of the affected tooth they cover. Inlays look like regular fillings, and they fit inside the space correctly to prevent food particles and bacteria from colonizing the area. They cover the chewing surface between the cusps, which includes the pits and fissures of a tooth. Inlays are suitable when the cavity is too extensive that a regular filling would not suffice. Inlays are superior to fillings as they don't contract as much, and therefore, there is a lesser chance of a gap forming between the restoration and the tooth structure.

Onlays, on the other hand, usually cover one or multiple cusps of the affected molar or premolar, and they are manufactured as a single piece. It is less aggressive, and it is cheaper than installing a crown, and the outcome is mainly dependent on the skill of the attending dentist. Our professionals have a proven track record of installing inlays and onlays, impressing clients with long-lasting results.

Inlays and onlays differ from a crown in that a crown covers all cusps are and the entire surface of the tooth. Tops are ideal when the damage is extreme, and they are more like tooth replacement that is done after removing the decayed areas.

When it comes to dental insurance, most plans cover the installation of crowns and not inlays and onlays, so you need to check with your provider to verify the status.

What Materials are Used for Inlays and Onlays?

There are many varieties of materials used to make inlays and onlays, and each comes with its unique benefits, as explained below:

Composite – this material is frequently used in dentistry for its beautiful appearance, and it is easy to repair in case of damages after a few years. Nonetheless, there is more tooth damage during the preparation stage, and this process requires great skill.

Gold – this material has been popular for decades due to its high strength and flexibility, but this popularity has been waning in recent years. Using gold is helpful in that the dentist only removes minimal portions of the tooth during preparation.

Ceramic – this material is more aesthetically appealing, but it must be used in tandem with metal reinforcement to ensure the restoration can withstand the forces of mastication. Ceramic material is coarse and can, therefore, hurt the other tooth surfaces causing them to chip off. 

Metal Ceramic – this is a hybrid material that seeks to combine the aesthetic appeal of ceramic inlays and outlays while creating stronger and more durable restorations.

When you come in for a consultation, the attending professional at Encino Dentist in California will advise you on the best material to use to address your oral problems, so you get the best possible outcomes.

What are the Advantages of Inlay and Onlay Restorations?

Qualified dentists highly recommend having these restorations for the following benefits:

Reinforcement – these restorations strengthen your molars and premolars by 75% which is a better option than regular metal fillings which are known to weaken teeth.

Durability – while these indirect restorations are pricier than direct fillings, they are durable. They are made from sturdy, hard-wearing material (e.g., porcelain, composite resin) which can last for decades.

Healthier teeth – another advantage of these restorations is that they prolong the life of your molars and premolars, and save you from needing further treatment any time soon.

Installation Process of Inlays and Onlays

You need two dental appointments to have inlays and onlays installed, as follows:

  • First Dental Appointment

    The dentist applies a local anesthetic to numb the area surrounding the tooth in question. They remove decayed or damaged portions of the tooth by drilling then wash them clean. Dental putty is then placed over the tooth to create a mold which is then used to develop inlay or onlay in a laboratory. Meanwhile, the dentist will create a temporary filling to protect your tooth until the second appointment. This first appointment takes a little more than one hour due to the prep work required.

  • Second Dental Appointment

    The dentist starts by removing the temporary restoration then places the inlay or onlay carefully, ensuring it achieves a proper fit. Once this happens, they apply a resin adhesive to cement the inlay or only permanently. The final step is polishing so the inlay or onlay is smooth and has a beautiful look that matches your natural teeth. This second appointment takes roughly an hour to complete.

    You may feel a little sensation around the treated tooth, but this sensitivity wears off in the days following. If need be, the dentist can recommend painkillers to manage any discomfort so you can resume normalcy. The inlay or onlay may feel a little strange at the onset, but you will soon become accustomed to it and enjoy the normal functioning of your back teeth, not to mention more appealing aesthetics.

Fabrication Methods for Inlays and Onlays

The manner in which these indirect restorations are developed is hinged upon the material the dentist chooses to use. These methods are discussed below:

  1. Indirect Restorative Method

    The dentist starts by making a mold of the affected tooth by scanning using an intraoral scanner or creating a mold with polyvinyl siloxane. The next step is making the inlay or only through either of these techniques:

    • CAD-CAM Technique

      Computer Aided Design-Computer Aided Manufacture (CAD-CAM) and this begins with scanning the inside of the patient's mouth to create a 3D virtual mold. The next step is uploading this impression onto suitable software such as the CEREC Acquisition Center system for the actual design and production using pre-manufactured blocks of material.

    • Lost Wax Technique

      Apart from CAD-CAM, your dentist can also use the lost wax technique which happens in two ways; the indirect approach that utilizes Type 1 inlay wax to create a wax pattern on the die, and the direct wax technique that uses Type 2 inlay wax. The latter option involves placing wax onto the tooth and molded to match the cavity).

  2. Direct Restorative Method

    This method does not require preparing an impression of the tooth, but rather, the affected tooth is coated with a layer of separating material like glycerin. The dentist then builds a composite restoration atop the glycerin layer, so it takes the shape of the cavity. Light-curing in the tooth ensues followed by additional light-curing then the layers of separating material are removed to allow proper bonding once the restoration is cemented on the tooth.

    Please note, the direct restorative method only works when using composite. Other materials such as porcelain or metal alloy need laboratory prep work and are therefore not suitable for this method.

  3. Slip Casting Method

    This method starts by building a smaller structure of alumina powder, then modeling fluid on a particular die, followed by sintering of the die. As a result, the liquid is absorbed inside the die, thus hardening the alumina powder. The outer surface of this structure is then painted with a porous material like lanthanum aluminosilicate glass powder, and this allows the glass powder infiltrates upon firing. The final step is to reinforce the material with a coat of zirconium oxide.

Find a Restorative Dentist Near Me

If you are suffering from teeth fractures, cavities, and cracks, you may develop teeth sensitivity to hot and cold food and beverages. What's more, ignoring these problems paves the way for more prominent teeth issues such as extensive dental caries and excruciating pain. Such discomfort undermines the quality of your life, and postponing treatment only makes things worse.

Encino Dentist strongly suggests treating such teeth by installing inlays and onlays so you can restore your teeth to normal health. You will enjoy durable inlays and onlays that can last up to thirty years without requiring another round of treatment. Contact our Encino dentist at 818-650-0429 to book a consultation with our team of expert dentists so we can determine the best way of solving your oral problems.