Crowns vs. Inlays and Onlays

An example of an inlay and onlay at Select Care Dental in Redmond, Oregon

What are Inlays and Onlays?

When a tooth is damaged in such a way that neither a simple filling nor a full-coverage crown will work, a great alternative is either an inlay or an onlay. Both are considered “indirect” fillings, which means they are crafted at a dental laboratory and then bonded to the tooth by a dentist. “Direct” fillings, on the other hand, are applied directly to the cavity by a dentist in one appointment.

Inlays are indirect fillings that fit inside the little points or cusps on a molar or premolar. Onlays cover one or more cusps. However, the procedure for placing one of these indirect fillings is the same in either case.

How do Inlays and Onlays Differ from Metal Fillings?

In years past, if you wanted a cavity filled you’d end up with a noticeable metal filling. However, thanks to recent advances in dental technology, we now have tooth-colored fillings made of porcelain or composite resin. Composite resin is a mixture of glass and plastic that not only looks like a natural tooth but bonds well with your tooth once it’s installed. Tooth-colored fillings are also better for the health of your teeth than metal fillings.

How Do Inlays and Onlays Differ from Dental Crowns?

The inlay/onlay procedure is very similar to having a crown placed. The only difference is that if you’re getting an inlay or onlay, we remove less of your natural tooth structure by way of drilling. During a crown placement, we will need to significantly reshape your tooth so it will fit inside the new covering. Since the purpose of dentistry is to maintain your tooth’s natural structure as much as possible, inlays and onlays are an excellent alternative to crowns when you have the opportunity to restore a tooth with this more conservative treatment.

What’s the Procedure for Inlays and Onlays?

The first step in the inlay/onlay procedure is for us to numb the tooth and the nearby area with a local anesthetic. Then we remove the decay to prevent it from progressing any further into the tooth and spreading the infection. Once we’ve prepared the tooth, we make an impression of it and send it to the dental laboratory. The impression is either a digital image or made with a putty-like material. The lab will use the impression to make a model of your tooth in preparation for the final inlay or onlay, which is made out of gold or a resin or ceramic that matches the color of your teeth.

Before the appointment ends, we will attach a temporary filling to your tooth as a protectant prior to receiving the final restoration. During your second appointment, we will attach the permanent inlay or onlay to the tooth, either with a resin that will harden when exposed to a special light or with a kind of permanent cement.

How Long Do Inlays and Onlays Last?

Both inlays and onlays are durable and don’t require any care beyond what you give to your natural teeth. If you brush and floss your teeth twice each day and come into our office for a check-up and cleanings every six months, your restorations will last for years.

If you are looking into getting an inlay or an onlay, contact our office at (541) 923-7633, and we’ll schedule a consultation.
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Select Care Dental, 774 Southwest Rimrock Way, Redmond, Oregon 97756-1941 • (541) 923-7633 • • 1/13/2022 • Related Phrases: dentist Redmond OR • dentist Redmond OR •