Inlays and Onlays: A Great Technique for Preserving Teeth

Tooth decay is incredibly common. In fact, 91% of adults age 20 and older will develop a cavity at some point in their lives. Cavities are the destruction of tooth enamel, which is the hard outer layer of the tooth. They form when plaque, a sticky film of bacteria builds up on your teeth and create holes in your teeth. 

Dentists can prevent cavities and detect them early when you attend your twice yearly checkup. It’s crucial to treat cavities promptly, otherwise they can spread and lead to tooth loss, gum disease, and serious infection. 

The skilled dental providers at Couture Smiles Dental Group are devoted to helping you keep your teeth and oral health in tip top shape. This includes helping you prevent cavities. When cavities do form, we treat them in various ways including fillings, onlays, and inlays. 

Here our experts discuss these treatment options in more detail. 

Filling vs Inlay

Dental fillings address damage caused by tooth decay by filling the area in with composite material. The material is pressed into the empty space after the cavity is cleaned out. It takes just one visit. 

If you have a very large cavity, your dentist may explain that an inlay is necessary instead of a regular filling. Inlays are also used to address cracked or fractured teeth. 

An inlay is one solid lab-manufactured piece of material. The process involves taking an impression of your tooth and sending the impression to the lab. Porcelain is the recommended material for inlays and onlays. Porcelain is strong, durable, and looks natural. 

The lab creates an inlay that matches the unique shape of the inside of your tooth to fill the empty space left by the cavity. The color of the porcelain inlay will match the shade of your surrounding teeth so that it blends seamlessly. The inlay looks completely natural.

An inlay requires two office visits. Your dentist removes the decay and thoroughly cleans the space before placing a temporary material there to fill the hole in your tooth. 

Once the inlay comes back from the lab, your dentist places the inlay in the clean tooth cavity and uses a dental cement that permanently bonds it to your tooth. 

Composite fillings last about five years, whereas inlays can last up to 30 years. 

What is an onlay and when is it used?

An onlay is similar to an inlay. The only difference is that an onlay covers the cusp of the tooth, which is the elevated area of the posterior teeth. Onlays typically cover a larger area than inlays, and they’re placed on the outside of the tooth. 

Couture Smiles Dental Group uses onlays to address damage to the cusp of the tooth. Like inlays, onlays are durable and can last for decades. 

Whether you need a filling, inlay, or onlay, rely on the providers at Couture Smiles Dental Group to keep your smile healthy. For this and all of your dental needs, call our Woodland Hills office to schedule an appointment with Nicole Sazgar, DDS, Jonathan Gordon, DDS, or Sean Fahid, DDS or request an appointment online today.

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