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Dental Inlays and Onlays
Here at Premier Valley Dental in Phoenix, AZ we want all of our patients to be aware of their options for dental restorations. Everyone is familiar with the concept of dental fillings, but a less known dental restoration are inlays and onlays. So, what are inlays and onlays? They describe dental restorations that are usually significantly more substantial than a dental filling. Let’s take a more in-depth look at what inlays and onlays are, and how they can help you get your smile back into shape!
The Difference Between Direct and Indirect Dental Restorations
There are two different kinds of dental restorations – direct and indirect. An example of a direct restoration is a dental filling. Composite material is applied directly onto your tooth after it has been prepared, and is molded and sculpted into place, then set using special ultraviolet light. An indirect dental restoration – like an inlay or onlay – is made in a dental lab, or at our office and once it is finished it is applied to your tooth.
What’s the Difference Between an Inlay and an Onlay?
Inlays and onlays are very similar but with one important distinction. To describe the difference, it is important to understand what the cusp of a tooth is. “Cusp” describes an occlusal or incisal eminence on a tooth. What does that mean? Some teeth have one high point, like your front teeth, others have a few tips, like your molars. Each high point on a tooth is considered a cusp. An inlay is used to restore less than a single cusp, whereas an onlay is used to restore one cusp or more of a tooth. Essentially, inlays are smaller, whereas onlays are larger.
If your tooth is broken or damaged seriously, one of the ways, we may recommend fixing it was with an inlay or onlay. The first step in the procedure is ensuring your comfort throughout by applying a local anesthetic and any sedation you desire. Once the site is numb, we will prepare the tooth to receive the inlay or onlay by removing any decay or rough spots/structural damage to the tooth. Once the tooth is ready to receive the inlay or onlay, we will take an impression of the tooth. This impression will be used to make the inlay or onlay. If the tooth is stable, we will leave it for the time that it takes to create the inlay/onlay (several weeks) or we will apply a temporary restoration to keep your tooth safe in the interim.
Once the inlay/onlay is ready, it will be time to come back into our office and have it placed. We will remove any temporary restoration of your tooth and place the inlay/onlay into the prepared tooth. The restoration will be cemented into place using a long-lasting dental adhesive.