Dental problems come in many different shapes and sizes. Some issues are relatively minor, all things considered, and require minimal treatment. Other problems may be more involved and will require invasive dental therapies. Thankfully the team at our Staten Island restorative dentistry center has different kinds of solutions to meet the needs of our patients.
When a patient suffers from serious tooth decay or dental injury, for example, the best option may be an inlay or an onlay. Let's take a moment to consider the treatment procedure.
What Are Inlays and Onlays?
Inlays and onlays are a type of dental restoration that is used to address major tooth decay and fractures. In some ways, it might help to think of inlays and onlays as larger versions of dental fillings. Unlike dental fillings, though, inlays and onlays are able to replace the entire biting surface (cusp) of a tooth.
More specifically, an inlay is designed to fill in the space between the cusps or rounded edges of a tooth. An onlay functions similarly but covered one or more cusps, potentially replacing the entire biting surface of a tooth.
Ideal Candidates for Inlays and Onlays
Good candidates for inlays and onlays are people who suffer from significant tooth decay and dental fractures. The damage should be so serious that a traditional filling is no longer a viable option for treatment. Furthermore, there should be enough healthy tooth structure remaining so that the restoration of the tooth does not require a dental crown. During a consultation, your dentist can determine the ideal restoration for your situation.
Prepping Your Teeth
In order to start the treatment process, the first step is to prep an affected tooth. This basically means removing any compromised or damaged tooth structure and leaving just the healthy tooth structure behind.
Taking Impressions of Your Prepped Teeth
Once a tooth is prepped, an impression is taken. This will help get an idea of the contours of the prepped tooth. The impression as well as notes regarding your adjacent teeth and your dental history will be used to craft the inlay or onlay.
Determining the Right Material for Your Inlays/Onlays
Inlays and onlays can be crafted from gold, soft alloys, porcelain, resin, and other select materials. While prepping a tooth and taking an impression, your dentist will be able to determine the ideal material to make your inlay or onlay out of.
In general, teeth that are more visible and prominent typically receive restorations that are tooth-colored. Molars and premolars are often more likely to have metal restorations simply given their key role in chewing.
The Role of the Dental Lab
The impression and other applicable information is sent to an off-site dental lab. It's at the lab that your inlays and onlays will be made. Typically this takes a week to two weeks. During this time, patients will wear temporary restorations to protect their teeth from harm and further damage.
Placing Your Finished Inlay or Onlay
Patients will return to the practice once the permanent inlay or onlay is completed. The temporary restorations are removed, the teeth are cleaned, and a final check is made to ensure proper fit. Once everything is set, your dentist will securely adhered in the restoration in place. Your smile will be as good as new.
Learn More About Dental Restorations
If you would like more information about inlays, onlays, and other dental restoration options, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry practice today. Our team will work closely with you to improve the health and beauty of your smile.