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Inlays & Onlays


A smiling woman with dental onlaysFillings are the most common solution for dealing with cavities. This treatment fills the cavity, restoring and protecting your oral health. However, there are times when the decay is too much to be treated with a filling. It may also not be significant enough to need a dental crown. Victor Nitu DDS can treat these types of cavities with inlays and onlays.

An Indirect Alternative to Fillings


Fillings, both amalgam ones as well as composite resin ones, are also referred to as direct fillings. This means that they are applied directly into the tooth and cured inside the cavity. Both inlays and onlays are indirect fillings. What this means is that they are created in a lab before being bonded into the cavity. While similar, they are used in different situations.

An inlay is a type of indirect filling that treats a smaller area of decay, frequently decay that occurs between the cusps of a molar. An onlay is used to treat larger areas of decay in which the cusps have been affected. It is also sometimes called a partial crown and works to build up the structure of the decayed tooth. Both inlays and onlays can be made from a few different types of materials. Porcelain is most popular because of its aesthetic benefits. Some older, unsightly, fillings can be replaced using porcelain inlays.

How Do Inlays and Onlays Work?


The process for getting inlays and onlays is a bit different than the process of getting a traditional filling. We still need to remove the decay, but this is the only step that is the same. After drilling away the decay and cleaning the tooth, we then take an impression of the tooth. We then place a temporary filling to protect the tooth while your inlay or onlay is made. After it is completed, the temporary filling is removed, and the final inlay or onlay is then bonded into the cavity.

What are the Advantages to an Inlay or Onlay?


Both inlays and onlays provide you with protection for cavities too large to be effectively treated with a traditional filling. It is also a more conservative option than a crown. Because the filling is bonded into the tooth, less of your tooth drilled away. This preserves more of its natural structure.

With larger amounts of decay, traditional fillings can compromise the affected tooth. An amalgam filling could be driven deeper into the tooth. A composite filling could wear out quickly or break. With an inlay or onlay, however, the tooth is strengthened. At the same time, these indirect fillings function to protect the tooth, preventing tooth sensitivity, infections, and even tooth loss. Moreover, because most inlays and onlays are made with porcelain, they also offer incredible aesthetic benefits. The material blends right in with the surrounding structure, rendering it unnoticeable to anyone who sees you smile.

If you have too much decay to be treated with a filling, but not enough to warrant a crown, an inlay or onlay might be the best option. For more information, call Victor Nitu DDS at (480) 536-8228 today.


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