What are the differences between inlays and onlays?
The difference between the two is in the area of the tooth they cover. An inlay is similar to a filling, but used between the tubercles on the chewing surface of teeth. An onlay is often used to cover one or more dental tubercles.
From what material are they made?
An inlay or onlay consists of a ceramic or fibre-reinforced composite. The appropriate material is selected based on the construction of the adjacent tooth, i.e. a natural composite or porcelain tooth.
Why are these an option?
They can be used for a root canal treated tooth or severely decayed teeth, where the decayed portion is cleared to reveal insufficient healthy tissue for a filling. In general, for root canal treated teeth or severely decayed teeth, the decayed portion is removed leaving a reduced amount of healthy tooth material to abut the adjacent tooth/teeth. If there is no contact point with the adjacent tooth, the food you consume is easily deposited in between, causing problems to the dental tissue and gums. The inlay or onlay is prepared on a mock-up, where the desired anatomic form and contact are achieved, before the final inlay or onlay is attached. The material is more resistant to wear and chewing pressure than conventional filling material.
What is the life of an inlay or onlay?
The life of an inlay or onlay depends on the material from which they are made, the condition of the original tooth treated with inlay or onlay, the chewing forces, oral hygiene of the patient, and regular visits to the dentist. An inlay or onlay usually functions healthily for decades.
What is the procedure?
On the first visit, the decayed portion of the tooth is removed, and the remaining healthy dental structure of the tooth will dictate to the dentist on whether to use an inlay or onlay. A dental impression is taken of the tooth and surrounding teeth. The tooth is then filled with a temporary filling material, while the dental impression is forwarded to the laboratory.
On the second visit the temporary filling is removed, and the inlay/onlay is fitted to and adjusted where necessary. The inlay/onlay will be returned to the laboratory for polishing. While this is happening, the remains of the original tooth are cleaned. The final inlay/onlay is cemented into position using a dental cement.
Inlays/onlays are prepared in our in-house dental laboratory, allowing for the procedure to be completed in just two visits to our clinic.
After fitting an Inlay/onlay
- It is necessary for the dental cement to harden for two hours after fitting. The patient may drink within the first two hours, but should not eat anything until the two hours is up.
- Daily aftercare
- The recommended aftercare is the same as for original teeth: frequent brushing together with the use of dental floss, and with regular visits to the dentist.
What advantages do porcelain inlays and onlays have?
- They look good aesthetically
- Protects the remaining healthy dental tissue
- Minimises the risk of further decay
- The restored tooth is a precise match to the teeth on either side
- Crocked and chipped teeth are restored