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Inlay and Onlay Fillings

Inlay and onlay treatments are dental restorations used to repair moderately to severely decayed or damaged teeth. They are considered more conservative options compared to dental crowns because they preserve more of the natural tooth structure. Inlay and onlay treatments are custom-made restorations that are produced in a dental laboratory and then bonded to the relevant tooth.

The main differences between Inlay and Onlay are:

1. Inlay: Inlay treatment is applied when the damage or decay is limited to the areas between the chewing surface (cusps) of the tooth and the tips of the teeth. They are similar to fillings but are produced outside the mouth and then cemented into place. Inlays are typically made from materials such as porcelain, composite resin, or gold.
2. Onlay: Sometimes called a partial crown, an onlay is done when the damage or decay extends to one or more of the cusps of the tooth or involves a larger portion of the tooth. They cover a larger surface area compared to inlay treatment and can extend to the cusp and lower edges of the tooth. The onlay is custom made in a dental laboratory and then bonded to the tooth. Like inlays, they can be made of materials such as porcelain, composite resin or gold.
The inlay or onlay process usually includes the following steps:
1. Diagnosis and treatment planning: The dentist examines the tooth and decides whether the most appropriate treatment will be inlay or onlay. X-rays or other imaging techniques may be used to assess the extent of damage or decay.
2. Preparation of the tooth: The affected tooth is prepared by removing the decayed or damaged areas. The dentist creates the necessary surface on the tooth for the inlay or onlay material to fit properly.
3. Impression: The impression of the prepared tooth is taken using dental silicone or digital scanning. This impression serves as a model for the dental laboratory that will fabricate the personalized restoration.
4. Temporary restoration: While inlay or onlay is being made, a temporary filling or restoration can be placed on the tooth to protect it.
5. Placement: When the inlay or onlay is ready, it is bonded to the tooth using dental adhesive. The dentist will ensure the fit, alignment, and bite are correct before permanently securing the restoration in place.
Inlay and onlay offer several advantages:
– Preservation of natural tooth structure: Inlay and onlay require minimal removal of healthy tooth structure, preserving the natural tooth more than dental crowns.
– Durability: Made from durable materials that can withstand normal biting and chewing forces.
– Aesthetics: Inlay and onlay provide a natural and trouble-free appearance as they can be custom-made to match the color and shape of natural teeth.
– Protection: Inlays and onlays help strengthen and protect the remaining tooth structure, reducing the risk of further damage or decay.

Inlays and onlays are long-lasting restorations that can restore the strength, function and aesthetics of a damaged tooth. Your dentist evaluates your specific situation and recommends the most appropriate treatment option in terms of the extent, location and aesthetics of the damage.

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