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Inlays and Onlays

Woman smiling with perfect teethAny tooth which has been impacted by tooth decay or cavities can be helped by the use of an inlay or onlay. While there are numerous restorative procedures to choose from these two processes can be chosen for a wide variety of reasons. Dental fillings are by far and away from the most commonly used restorative procedure. They can be used to fill cavities or to address the spaces or gaps between teeth.

There are several different types of fillings and each one is used for different reasons. The two most commonly used are the inlay or onlay type filling. When a patient has a small cavity, the inlay is recommended. For those cavities where there is a significant amount of damage, the onlay is recommended. The definition of significant damage means that the tooth is damaged beyond the cusp and extends to the root. No matter the type of filling, they all involve removing the decayed portion of the tooth before placing a filling.

How Long Do Fillings Last?

Inlays and onlays both used to be made of gold. This was a long-lasting solution and for decades the chosen material in fillings. Now, in modern times, the choice is porcelain. It is also long-lasting but cheaper than gold. The expected lifespan of inlays and onlays is widely dependent upon the type of material they are manufactured from. While gold is still used and the most durable of all materials chosen there are other materials used now. Gold fillings have been known to strengthen teeth by up to 75% in some cases. Due to gold not wearing or eroding as much as other materials, gold fillings can last up to thirty years.

While your assessment, we will determine how much damage has occurred and make a recommendation as to the best type filling of your situation. Patients who are on a tight budget would likely choose porcelain.

Inlays and Onlays vs Crowns

When the tooth decay is significant fillings might not always be able to do the trick. Another method of restorative dentistry is known as a crown placement. Anyone who comes in for a filling can choose to have a crown placed. A crown placement involves removing a greater portion of the natural tooth than either the onlay or inlay procedure. They also tend to cost a great deal more too.

When Are Onlays and Inlays Necessary?

Whether decay has set in because of poor oral hygiene or because of trauma, an inlay or onlay can restore the lost functionality of the tooth quickly and easily. Inlays are chosen when the damage is minimal. This is also known as a traditional filling. When there is more significant damage, the onlay is recommended.

Patients who have questions regarding fillings types or who want an evaluation should contact our office at 206-791-2020.
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