Inlays & Onlays


Woman smiling with perfect teethWhen you have a cavity, your mind most likely goes right to needing a filling to treat it. While this is true in many cases, fillings are not always the best solution. In certain situations, traditional amalgam and composite fillings can compromise the treated tooth. In these cases, a different treatment is needed. At Summit Dental Care, we can provide an alternative to traditional fillings using inlays and onlays.

When are Inlays and Onlays Needed?


Inlays and onlays are treatments meant to treat cavities. However, they are meant to treat more difficult cavities where traditional fillings might compromise the affected tooth further. They both treat cavities that have affected the chewing surfaces of your back teeth. Inlays treat cavities that are in the crevices of the molars, between the cusps. Onlays, or partial crowns, treat cavities that affect one or more of the cusps.

How are Inlays and Onlays Different from Traditional Fillings?


With traditional fillings, the filling material is packed into the cavity and then cured, or hardened. They are what are known as direct fillings. Both inlays and onlays are indirect fillings. To create your inlay or onlay, we need to take an impression of the affected tooth after the decay has been removed. The inlay or onlay is then created in our dental lab. Once finished, it is bonded into the cavity using special dental cement.

Why Should I Get an Inlay or Onlay?


Inlays and onlays are both meant to treat cavities on the tops of your molars that are too large to be treated with a traditional filling. They can be made from many materials, but are frequently made from porcelain or ceramic, which allows for a more natural look. You do not have to worry about flashes of silver or gold any time you open your mouth. Inlays and onlays help to strengthen the affected tooth. They are less invasive than a dental crown.

We only need to remove the decayed portion of the tooth rather than removing enamel to reduce the size of the tooth. This allows us to preserve more of your natural tooth structure. Inlays and onlays also provide a perfect fit inside the cavity. They will not shrink after curing because there is no curing necessary. Unlike amalgam fillings, you also do not have to worry about the filling shrinking or expanding due to temperature fluctuations.

Are There Any Cons to Getting Inlays or Onlays?


While inlays and onlays are considered an excellent solution for treating cavities in your molars, they do have some drawbacks associated with them. You may have increased tooth sensitivity for a while after the placement of your inlay or onlay. Like traditional fillings, inlays and onlays are not made to last forever. While they can last for several years, they will eventually need to be replaced. In rare cases, bacteria can get trapped inside of the tooth, where it can continue to cause damage.

What if the Cavity is Too Big?


If the cavity in your molar is too large, even an inlay or an onlay might not be possible. In these instances, we can still help to preserve the tooth and prevent an extraction. If you are dealing with a significant amount of tooth decay, we may recommend a dental crown.

For more information on inlays and onlays, and to find out if these indirect fillings are the right solution for your cavity, call Summit Dental Care at (208) 490-8141 today.



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