|Inlays and Onlays
East Wenatchee, WA
Cavities, while often thought to be an issue faced only by children, are a common dental issue that affect people of all ages. They occur when the acids produced by plaque and oral bacteria are left on the surfaces of your teeth. These acids erode the enamel, leading to the formation of pits in your teeth. Typically, cavities are filled with amalgam or composite resin fillings after the bacteria has been removed. However, using filling material is not always ideal in all situations. When cavities occur on the chewing surfaces of your molars or when the cavity is large, amalgam or composite can put the tooth at risk for further harm. At Johnson Family Dental, we may treat these cavities with dental inlays and onlays, also known as partial crowns.
Most teeth are filled with one of two materials, either amalgam or composite resin, when a cavity in a tooth is present. Made up of a mixture of metals suspended in mercury, amalgam fillings are known for their exceptional strength. This strength makes amalgam ideal for cavities in the back of the mouth, where bite pressures are the strongest. However, these fillings are silver in color. Not only that, but many patients express concerns over the metal and mercury content. Composite resin fillings are a more aesthetic alternative to amalgam. They are made up of plastic, fine glass and other materials, and are white in color. Because they blend in with the color of your natural teeth, they are ideal for teeth at the front of your mouth. However, they are not nearly as strong as amalgam.
Inlays and Onlays
When a patient has a cavity on the chewing surface of their molars, this can be problematic for more traditional filling materials. Amalgam fillings placed in these cavities can be driven deeper into the tooth, acting as a wedge. Eventually, the tooth can split in half. Composite resin fillings placed in these cavities can wear down quickly and break. A dental crown can be used, but the placement of them is a more invasive approach to the tooth, forcing us to reduce the size of the natural tooth dramatically. Inlays and onlays provide an alternative, middle ground approach to fillings and are a more conservative approach than a dental crown.
Dental inlays and onlays are known as indirect fillings, created outside of the tooth, rather than cured inside of it. While they can be made from several different materials, they are typically made of porcelain. The porcelain for these indirect fillings is strong and can stand up to most normal daily use of the molars. They can also be created to perfectly match the color of your natural teeth, so they will not be noticed at all. Inlays are used when only one cusp of the molar is affected. Onlays are used when two or more cusps are affected. They are also commonly referred to as partial crowns.
Why Use Inlays and Onlays?
Preserving and protecting your natural teeth is always our first course of action. Though other prosthetics are available if needed, such as a dental crown or dental bridge, we always pursue the least invasive first.
There are several benefits to inlays and onlays. We use inlays and onlays because they:
Placing Your Inlay or Onlay
Placing your dental inlay or onlay is done over two office visits. At your first appointment we remove the bacteria and then clean and fill the space temporarily. We also capture an impression of the biting surface which is sent to a dental lab for the fabrication of the device. Once we receive the prosthetic, we will then contact you for the second appointment to fit and then place your dental inlay or onlay. Once cemented in place, your tooth structure is then restored and strengthened for continued use.