Inlays and Onlays
Tooth pain is the result of a bacterial infection of the tooth. In a process known as tooth decay, bacteria demineralize the hard tissues of the tooth and damage the tooth’s organic material. If caught early, however, tooth infections can be treated with dental fillings. If the tooth structure is too weak to support a traditional filling, however, your dentist may recommend an inlay or an onlay.
Inlays require two separate appointments. In the first appointment your dentist will clean out the tooth decay and take an impression. This impression is then sent to a dental laboratory. At the lab, the inlay is crafted to meet your specifications. Depending on your needs, the inlay can be made of metal, porcelain or a composite plastic resin. At the second appointment the inlay will be cemented into place.
An onlay works exactly the same way as an inlay but covers more of the tooth surface. Like an inlay, an onlay requires two appointments. An impression taken at the first appointment is sent to a dental lab. At the second appointment the onlay received from the lab is cemented into place.
What is the difference between a crown and an inlay/onlay?
A crown covers the entire tooth while inlays and onlays only partially cover the natural tooth surface.
How long do inlays and onlays last?
If properly taken care of, inlays and onlays are extremely durable, lasting up to 30 years.
How long is the time between inlay/onlay appointments?
Usually dental laboratories can produce inlays and onlays within a time frame of two weeks. During that time you’ll be outfitted with a temporary filling, which will allow you to eat and speak as you would normally.