What are inlays and onlays; what’s the difference between them?
An inlay is a filling undertaken when the tooth structure replaced is within the cusp tips, or center, of the tooth. Restorations involving the entire biting surface (one or more cusp points) of a tooth are onlays.
If a tooth has already lost quite a bit of its original structure due to trauma or decay then dental crowns, which cover up the entire tooth down to the gumline, might be the preferred choice. But if you have an old, broken, or missing filling, the far more conservative choice of an inlay or onlay may be suggested by our staff. An inlay or onlay can strengthen a tooth up to 75 percent and prolong the life of your tooth.
What is involved in getting an inlay or onlay?
The first step is preparation of the tooth, including the removal of the decayed or damaged portion. We will only remove as little tooth structure as possible to restore your tooth. The area is numbed by a local anesthetic before being removed by a drill, dental laser, or air-abrasion device.
After the decay and damage have been removed, a mold of the tooth is taken. Next comes a real time-saving step: Normally the mold would then be sent out to a lab for manufacturing and weeks could pass in the interim. But thanks to La Michoacana’s CAD/CAM technology (Computer-Aided Design and Computer-Aided Manufacturing), we can restore a tooth on-site in as little as an hour! The inlay or onlay is then placed to ensure a correct fit before it is bonded to the tooth. If the fit is aligned with the patient’s bite, it is permanently attached to the tooth using special cement or bonding before being polished for appearance.