Most people are familiar with fillings and dental crowns as options for restoring a tooth’s structure after it has become decayed or damaged. However, you might not have heard of inlays and onlays, which are alternative dental restoration options that fall in between a filling and a crown in terms of how much tooth structure they replace. At Shadowridge Dental Group in San Marcos, California, we believe in practicing conservative dentistry that retains as much of your natural tooth structure as possible, and inlays and onlays enable us to do just that!
What are inlays and onlays?
Inlays and onlays are customized dental restorations that are typically made from tooth-colored porcelain.
- Inlays are molded into the tooth’s chewing surface but do not cover any of the cusps (the portions that stick out from the molars).
- Onlays are used to fill both the chewing surface and one or more cusps on the tooth; because of this, they are sometimes called “partial crowns.”
How inlays and onlays differ from fillings and crowns
Inlays and onlays serve the same purposes as a filling or a crown: to protect your tooth after damage or decay while restoring its shape and function. However, there are some key differences:
- Fillings are used to fill small cavities, and crowns are used when a large portion of the tooth needs to be protected, such as when the tooth has broken or there is deep decay. Inlays and onlays are perfect for the “in-between” cases where a filling would be too small, but a crown is too intensive.
- A filling is typically made from composite resin placed in your tooth during the same visit that the decayed/damaged area is removed. Inlays and onlays are more like dental crowns in that the tooth is typically prepared in one visit, and dental impressions are used to fabricate your custom restoration out of high-quality dental porcelain in a laboratory. After it is ready, you then come back into the office to have your final restoration placed.
- Inlays and onlays preserve more of your natural tooth than a crown and can often be adjusted or repaired over time if needed, whereas crowns are more difficult to repair because the natural tooth is less stable.
- While they cost more than fillings due to their larger size, inlays and onlays tend to be much less expensive than a crown while offering many of the same benefits.
To schedule your appointment at Shadowridge Dental Group and learn more about whether inlays or onlays are the best option for your needs, call (760) 284-8111 today!
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