Inlays and Onlays

Oral bacteria occur naturally in your mouth. These bacteria, while natural, can be harmful to your teeth. They produce harmful acids that can destroy your tooth enamel. With regular brushing and flossing, you can work to keep bacteria at bay, and prevent acids from harming your teeth. However, if you ignore your oral hygiene routine, or you consistently miss the same spot over and over, the bacteria will continue to grow, and the acids are left to eat away your enamel, which leads to tooth decay. Eventually, small pits form on your teeth, and continue to grow the longer they go untreated. Fillings are frequently used to treat cavities, but there are some instances when they may not be the optimal solution. At National Dental Williston Park, we offer an alternative – inlays and onlays.

What are Inlays and Onlays?

When you develop a cavity, a filling is usually the treatment used. They are not always the best solution, however. When you get a cavity on the chewing surface of your molar, the situation becomes a little more complicated. Fillings in this region of your tooth can compromise the tooth’s integrity. This can put your tooth at risk for further damage.

Inlays and onlays are what are known as indirect fillings. These fillings are designed and created outside of the tooth, instead of being cured inside the tooth. Inlays are designed to fill cavities that affect only one cusp of the molar. Onlays, however, are used when multiple cusps are affected. They are sometimes called partial crowns and build up the structure of the tooth. Inlays and onlays both provide strength to an affected tooth. They are typically made of composite resin or porcelain. Both of these materials blend in with the color of your enamel.

Procedure for Inlays and Onlays

Before we get started with your inlay or onlay, we first administer a local anesthetic. Once the area around the tooth is numb, we drill the decay from the cavity, clean the tooth and dry it. We then take an impression of the tooth, which is sent off to the lab. Your inlay or onlay is then designed and created. It can take up to two weeks for your restoration to be completed, so a temporary inlay or onlay will be placed while you wait. Once it is ready, we will check it for fit, and then cement it into place.

Benefits of Inlays and Onlays

There are several benefits of inlays and onlays:

  • The materials that are used for inlays and onlays (composite resin and porcelain) blend in seamlessly with the natural color of your teeth.
  • Composite resin and porcelain contain no metals or mercury.
  • Inlays and onlays are not temperatures sensitive (unlike amalgam fillings)
  • Inlays and onlays fit perfectly within the cavity. They are not cured inside the tooth, and will not shrink after placement.
  • Inlays and onlays strengthen the affected tooth (rather than compromising it).
  • Minimal tooth preparation is required.
  • Inlays and onlays are less expensive than crowns.

Inlays and onlays are a great option for cavities on the chewing surfaces of your teeth, where traditional fillings can compromise the strength of the affected tooth. Contact National Dental Williston Park at (516) 686-9780 to find out if they are right for you.