Dental inlays and onlays are restorations used to repair rear teeth that have a mild to moderate amount of decay. They can also be used to restore teeth that are cracked or fractured if the damage is not severe enough to require a dental crown. Inlays and onlays are usually made from porcelain, composite resin, and sometimes even from gold.
Because they can be created from tooth-colored materials, inlays and onlays are often used to replace metal fillings (mercury fillings) for patients who desire a more natural looking smile. Read on to find out about how inlays and onlays may be able to enhance your smile’s health and appearance.
Benefits of Dental 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:
- Since they can be made from tooth-colored material, including porcelain and composite resin, 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. This change in size can cause teeth to weaken or fracture.
- The use of inlays and onlays requires less tooth reduction than does the use of metal fillings. This allows dentists to conserve more of a patient’s natural tooth structure in the treatment process.
- Because of the way inlays and onlays are made, they help to strengthen teeth by up to 75 percent.
- The durable material from which inlays and onlays are made helps them last up to 30 years, much longer than that of conventional 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.