Cavities require restorative care, but what is the best route for getting your tooth back to its good health? Should you choose an inlay/onlay or a traditional filling? Your dentist in Lincoln Park, NJ provides both options to stop decay and strengthen your tooth. We explain more about the differences between inlays, onlays, and fillings below.
What’s an Inlay/Onlay? Is There a Difference Between the Two?
An inlay is used for small cavities and goes in the center of the tooth, or between the cusps on the chewing surface. An onlay is bigger, used for larger spots of decay, and has more than one bonding point.
We usually refer to this option as an inlay/onlay because they are basically the same — restorations that are created outside of the tooth and placed after. This process is why the inlay/onlay may be referred to as an indirect filling, too.
The inlay/onlay can be made from one of several materials. Depending on the location of the tooth, your budget, and your preference, your dentist will recommend a dental crown made of gold, ceramic, or porcelain. When cosmetics are a primary concern, porcelain is the best option. Gold is the sturdiest material for an inlay/onlay. It is the best option for back teeth, or for people who grind their teeth at night.
Comparing inlay/onlay vs. fillings
So what’s the difference between an indirect filling (or the inlay/onlay) and a traditional filling? The most significant is in the way the restoration is created and applied. An indirect filling is manufactured outside of the mouth, in a separate lab, and bonded onto the tooth after. It takes two visits to the dentist, and requires you to wear a temporary restoration in the time between appointments.
A traditional (direct) filling is molded directly into the cavity in the office, and requires just one appointment.
Some other key differences between indirect and direct fillings include…
- Conservative: Inlays/onlays preserve more of your natural, healthy tooth structure for more conservative dentistry.
- Improved fit: Porcelain and gold do not shrink like a composite filling may, ensuring an excellent fit from day one.
- Longer-lasting: Because inlays/onlays are more stable than direct filings, they usually last longer. And an onlay can actually add strength to a damaged tooth.
When to Choose an Inlay/Onlay?
If you have tooth decay, how can you know if an inlay/onlay or traditional filling is more appropriate for your smile? Your dentist will help you understand your options. Typically, inlays/onlays are best for restoring tooth decay that requires more than a simple filling, but less than a dental crown. It may also be the best option for repairing decay between the teeth.
Dental inlays and onlays are completed in two visits to Comprehensive Dental. We invite you to learn more about the restorative treatment! Please contact us to schedule an appointment today.