Inlays & Onlays

Cavities are a common issue that affects the health and structure of your teeth. They occur when the acids produced by plaque and bacteria erode the enamel, which eventually causes small pits to form on the teeth. The most common treatment for cavities is fillings. While effective in many situations, there are certain situations in which cavities can cause more harm than good. At Van Alstine Family Dentistry, we provide an alternative to traditional fillings with inlays and onlays.

Traditional Fillings

For over 150 years, the go-to filling was an amalgam. This filling, made up of metals suspended in mercury, is well-known for its strength. It can withstand a significant amount of bite force, making it an ideal solution for cavities in back teeth. However, many patients are wary of these fillings. Along with containing metals and mercury, both of which patients want to avoid, they are also silver in color.

Within the last few decades, the composite resin has become a more popular filling option. This filling is made up of fine glass, plastic, and other materials. Along with blending in perfectly with the natural color of your teeth, composite resin bonds to the tooth and requires less drilling of the natural tooth structure. However, it is not nearly as strong as amalgam and can wear down and break under too much stress or constant use.

Inlays And Onlays

Traditional fillings do have their place, but they are not always the ideal solution for every type of cavity. Cavities on the chewing surfaces of your molars are one such situation. Placing an amalgam filling in this area can place the tooth at further risk for damage, as biting and chewing can wedge the filling deeper into the tooth, causing the tooth to split. A composite resin filling in this area can quickly wear down and break.

Inlays and onlays provide an ideal alternative to traditional fillings in these situations. An inlay is used when the cavity affects only one cusp of the molar. Onlays, often called partial crowns, are used when multiple cusps have been affected, and the structure of the tooth needs to be rebuilt. These restorations provide strength to the affected tooth, rather than weakening it. They can be made from a few different materials, but porcelain is the most popular option.

Inlay And Onlay Procedure

Inlays and onlays are known as indirect fillings. This simply means that the filling is created outside of the tooth, rather than cured inside of it. The process typically takes two appointments to complete. During your first visit, we clean the tooth and clear away the decay. Next, we take an impression of the tooth. The impression is sent to a dental lab, where it is used to design and create an inlay or onlay that will fit perfectly in your cavity. It can take up to two weeks for the restoration to be completed and sent back. During this time, a temporary filling is placed. Once your inlay or onlay is ready, we will cement it into place on your tooth.

Benefits Of Inlays And Onlays

There are several benefits of inlays and onlays:

  • They provide strength to the affected teeth, rather than weakening it.
  • Less of your tooth structure needs to be removed.
  • The inlay or onlay fits perfectly in the cavity. It will not shrink in the tooth as traditional fillings do during curing.
  • Porcelain inlays and onlays provide a beautiful, seamless restoration that is unnoticeable to others.
  • Porcelain contains no metals and no mercury. It is also not susceptible to temperature fluctuations.
  • Inlays and onlays are less invasive, and cost less, than a crown.

If you have a cavity in an area of the tooth where a traditional filling can compromise the tooth, inlays and onlays may be able to help. Contact Van Alstine Family Dentistry at Van Alstine Family Dentistry Phone Number (734) 482-8500 today to learn more and find out if they are the right solution for you.