Dental Inlays and Onlays

Dentist Serving Calgary, Cochrane, Airdrie and Nearby Areas of Alberta

Damaged or decayed teeth may be restored and protected using various restorative dentistry treatment options. Dental inlays and onlays are a more conservative option than dental crowns. These indirect fillings provide an alternative solution to tooth decay as they fit snugly around your tooth and protect it.

Difference between Dental Fillings and Indirect Fillings

Traditional dental fillings are molded into your mouth as you sit in the dentist’s chair, while dental inlays and onlays are created in a dental lab, and then bonded to your damaged tooth. Dental fillings are packed into your cavity once the decay is removed, while dental inlays and dental onlays are cemented to your tooth and provide stronger protection and support.

Inlays vs. Onlays

An inlay is a dental restoration where the material is bonded in the center of your tooth and fits snugly within the grooves of your teeth. They cover the contours or cusps of your tooth and are smaller than onlays and dental crowns.

An onlay is used when there is more extensive damage, and covers one or more tips of your cusps. While this restoration covers more of your tooth, it does not protect the entire chewing surface of your tooth the way a dental crown does.

Dr. Chee can answer your  questions about porcelain inlays and onlays during the initial consultation at our Calgary office.

Benefits of Inlays and Onlays

Some benefits of dental inlay and onlay restorations include: 

  • Structural Safeguard: Inlays and onlays preserve healthy teeth while restoring decayed and damaged areas. Their fit and durable material also strengthens weak areas of your natural teeth, thereby enhancing your overall oral health.
  • Better Fit: Their conservative preparation means that inlays and onlays preserve as much of your healthy tooth as possible. If you have mild to moderate tooth decay, and decay that extends in between your teeth, these restorations are an ideal alternative to full-coverage crowns.
  • Easy to Maintain: Inlays and onlays are tailored to fit your particular tooth, making it easier to brush and floss than with a full-coverage restoration.
  • Natural Appearance: Not only are they the same colour as your natural teeth, these restorations are less likely to discolour with age as tooth-coloured composite fillings often do.
  • Tight Space Fulfillments: Cavities between your teeth are better protected with inlays, which provide a tighter seal and more effectively keep bacteria out. Inlays are also easier to clean and more stain resistant than composite fillings.

The Procedure

Inlays and onlays are typically completed in two visits at the Aesthetic Dental Studio. During your first visit, our team will remove the decayed portion of your tooth, take an impression and send it to the dental lab. A temporary filling will be placed while your custom inlay or onlay is being created.

During your second visit, the restoration will be permanently bonded to your tooth.

Schedule your free consultation to discuss your suitability for dental inlays or dental onlays today by calling 403-543-4600 or contacting Aesthetic Dental Studio online. Serving patients in Calgary, Cochrane and all of Alberta.

What Warrants a Dental Inlay or Onlay?

Historically, tooth damage has been repaired in one of just a few ways. A dentist may have removed minor decay and placed a filling. They may have performed extensive repair or a root canal and placed a full crown over the tooth, or, in extreme circumstances, may have had to remove a badly damaged tooth. Dental inlays and onlays fill a gap between dental fillings and dental crowns. You may benefit from this form of treatment if you have tooth decay that's a bit more extensive but not so much so that you need a root canal and crown. With an inlay or onlay, the damage is completely repaired without needing to reduce a tooth more than what's absolutely necessary to eliminate the diseased enamel.

Why Should I Choose an Inlay or Onlay?

There are several reasons more of our patients are choosing to repair tooth damage using dental inlays and onlays as opposed to large dental fillings. The restoration that is bonded to the tooth doesn't require any special care in terms of oral hygiene. You can maintain your restorations well by brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily as you do to prevent cavities and gum disease. It's also necessary to maintain regular dental visits that evaluate your restorations. 

Without any special care, dental inlays and onlays are incredibly durable. Studies indicate that these restorations can withstand 50 to 70 percent greater chewing force than a standard filling. Additionally, inlays and onlays are crafted out of durable, lifelike material that blends into the smile. No one will notice your restorations, just your natural-looking teeth. While wear and tear in inevitable, inlays and onlays are known to last decades with good care. 

Can I Eat Whatever I Want with an Inlay or Onlay?

While your oral care habits may not need to change at all after you receive your inlay or onlay, you may need to take some precautions around what you eat and drink. In general, guidelines around what to avoid when you have this type of restoration are intended to prevent damage to the inlay or onlay or disrupt its structural integrity in any way. 

Some of the recommendations your dentist may make include the avoidance of:

  • Very hard or crunchy foods like nuts and raw carrots. The extraordinary force of chewing on hard foods can degrade the bond of the restoration or even cause the inlay or onlay to become dislodged. 
  • Sticky foods. Chewing sticky foods presents a unique challenge for restorations like inlays, onlays, and crowns. These restorations are durable to withstand normal force but may not have the same tensile strength as natural teeth. The intense pull and torque of chewy foods can cause an inlay or onlay to loosen. 
  • Tannins. There are several foods and beverages that are higher in tannins. Red wine is one. Beets, coffee, and pasta sauce are others. While you may not completely cut all tannins and stain-causing foods out of your diet, you can make it a habit to rinse your mouth after consuming such items to wash away particles that can discolor your restoration.