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Inlays and Onlays

Inlays and onlays are restorations that are made to rear teeth that have a mild to moderate amount of decay. They are made of composite resin material, porcelain, or gold in a dental laboratory. Once completed, they are bonded to the teeth.

An inlay fills a hole inside the tooth, while an onlay sits on top of the tooth to build up its shape.

Inlays and onlays can also be used to:

  • Restore teeth that are cracked or fractured if the damage is not severe enough to require a dental crown
  • Replace metal fillings for patients who desire a more natural looking smile
  • Help to conserve much of the natural tooth structure.

Treatment, which normally requires two or three appointments, involves isolating the tooth, and removing any old fillings or damaged tooth structure under local anesthesia. An impression of the tooth is made, then the inlay or onlay is created from porcelain, gold, or composite resin material. The inlay or onlay is then cemented securely into place. Adjustments may be made to ensure the tooth is comfortable to bite on.

Benefits of Inlays and Onlays

In treating dental decay, inlays and onlays help to eliminate tooth sensitivity and eventual tooth loss. Inlays and onlays also offer the following benefits:

  • Because they are made from tooth-coloured material, inlays and onlays are virtually invisible.
  • Unlike metal fillings, inlays and onlays will not expand or contract in response to temperature changes caused by hot or cold foods, thereby diminishing the possibility of fracture.
  • Inlays and onlays requires less tooth reduction than metal fillings, allowing the dentist to conserve more natural tooth structure.
  • The durable material from which inlays and onlays are made helps them last up to 30 years - much longer than that of conventional amalgam fillings.
  • Inlays and onlays can replace silver fillings to create a healthier, more natural-looking smile.
  • By saving decayed teeth, inlays and onlays prevent the need for more extensive treatment later on.

For more information on inlays and onlays, and how they might help you, please contact us.


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