Dental Inlays vs Dental Onlays – The Differences Explained

dental inlays chesterfieldThe earlier tooth decay is caught, the easier it will be to treat. However, what if you find yourself with a decayed tooth that’s too damaged to support a dental filling but not impaired enough for a dental crown?

We need something that’s stronger and tougher than a filling but more conservative than a crown, which will allow you to keep the healthy remaining portion of your tooth.

The ideal tooth restoration treatment in this case, would be to place dental inlays or dental onlays. Chesterfield dentist Dr Akinwande, will be able to advise which restoration would be best in your particular case.

Inlays and onlays are mostly used to restore the back teeth because these usually bear a heavier load and are the hardest to clean. As a result these are the teeth which more commonly suffer from decay.

Inlays and onlays can also be used to replace large old amalgam fillings because they’re made with tooth-colored materials. For this treatment, two office visits are usually required. During the first visit we’ll take a mould of your teeth so your restoration can be made in the dental lab and then on a second visit we’ll fit the onlay/inlay.

So what’s the difference between dental inlays and onlays?

Although they’re two very similar tooth restoration treatment methods, there’s some key differences to note as each cover different surface areas of the tooth.

  • A dental Inlay – dental inlays at Chesterfield are used to repair the chewing surface of a tooth and fill the space between the cusps of the teeth, so it fits ‘into’ the section that’s damaged.
  • A dental onlay – dental onlays at Chesterfield work very similar to inlays but cover one or more cusps or even the entire biting surface, so in this sense it fits ‘onto’ the tooth. An onlay is more extensive, so it’s only used instead of an inlay if the area of damage to the tooth is greater.

Benefits of dental inlays and onlays

For cosmetic reasons both inlays and onlays are tooth colored, so they always match the rest of the teeth perfectly. Some other benefits included are:

  • Tooth conservation – both inlays and onlays mean you can restore any decayed or damaged areas while at the same time preserve as much healthy tooth as possible.
  • Perfect fit – while fillings can sometimes shrink, prefabricated gold or porcelain inlays or onlay restorations won’t, so you’ll get a very precise fit. This also makes them easy to clean.
  • Strength and stability – they’re very durable and as a rule, usually last longer than a filling, particularly onlays, as they work to protect weak parts of your tooth and to strengthen it.
  • Color – A dental inlay or onlay is much less likely to become stained or discoloured than a conventional tooth-colored resin filling.

Regardless of whether you need a dental inlay or a dental onlay at Chesterfield Dentistry you can be certain that your tooth will be restored back to its full structure and strength, so you can once again bite and chew without worry. If you’re in pain or think you may have a cavity, call us today on (314) 469 6429 to arrange a consultation with Dr Akinwande for your tooth restoration treatment.