Alternate Filling Options – Inlays and Onlays

One of the restorative procedures offered in Cosmetic & Restorative Dentistry by Dr. Maxine Moncrieffe are porcelain inlays and onlays. This method is only used by a handful of dentists and may sometimes be used as an alternate option to crowns. Patients that are experiencing tooth decay or damages to the teeth along those lines may opt for inlays and onlays, also referred to as indirect fillings, for corrective work.

Porcelain inlays and onlays are also alternatives for traditional fillings which are used to correct cavities and damages that are ailing the teeth. The difference between traditional fillings and these indirect fillings are that the traditional fillings are performed directly in the dentist’s office. Indirect fillings are made special in the laboratory before they are affixed to the teeth.

Advantages of Inlays/Onlays

There are quite a few advantages that lay in the use of inlays and onlays. The following are the seven most well known benefits behind indirect fillings:

  • Color: In contrast to traditional tooth colored fillings, inlays and onlays are not susceptible to discoloration.
  • Hassle Free Cleaning: As compared to crowns, inlays and onlays are much easier to clean because of the way they are made to fit snugly on the teeth. Porcelain fillings do not change in size when they are dried unlike its composite counterpart.
  • Durability and Stability: Apart from being suitable and strong solutions to tooth decay, indirect fillings also end up strengthening the tooth in question.
  • Comfortable Fits: Because indirect fillings involves the preservation of the unaffected parts of the damaged tooth, they are more suitable options as opposed to crowns because it retains as much of the original shape of the tooth as possible.
  • Tooth Structure: Indirect fillings act as a safeguard for the healthy tooth and help reverse the decay in the affected areas.
  • Tight Space Fulfillments: When working with closed off or tight spaces, inlays and onlays are more suitable because they act as a seal and barrier against bacteria in addition to their durability.
  • Protection: Because there is only minimal preparatory shaping done to the damaged tooth, indirect fillings work best when protecting the weaker spots of the tooth.

Procedures of Inlays/Onlays

Typically, the process of having an inlay/onlay or indirect filling will require two trips to the dentist. The first day will mainly involve preparatory work on the teeth that need the filling after which a mould of the tooth is made. The mould will be used to create the filling with gold, resin or porcelain depending on the dentist’s specifications as well as the preference of the patient. While the permanent filling is made, the short term filling is placed onto the tooth.

Upon the second trip to the dentist, the permanent inlay/onlay should be finished and the short term filling is removed. The permanent filling will then be affixed to the teeth and the patient’s comfort will be questioned to ensure that the inlay/only has a snug fit. Afterwards, the filling is cemented or bonded onto the tooth and then polished for a natural look and feel.

What’s In Store for Inlays/Onlays

Over time, the materials used for the creation of inlays/onlays have been developed and changed. With the work and research done, the medium used for the dental restorative procedures have become as life like as they can be. Because the materials used for inlays/onlays are very durable, it is probably that they will no longer be replaced by different mediums. Discoloration is also no longer a problem because the materials keep their color for the expanse natural life.

Picking the Right Dentist

Only a handful of dentists perform inlay and onlay procedures since there isn’t any unique training that dentists can undergo. While some dentists may learn to perform the procedure at laboratories that create the fillings, others may employ the use of more technologically advanced tools to take an image of the teeth which will then be transferred to a laboratory. From there, the lab will inform the dentist with the patient’s presence. Our dentists are thoroughly trained to handle all aspects of this procedure with the utmost care.