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When a tooth has too much damage to the structure of the tooth to justify only a dental filling, but not enough to need a crown, the solution is an inlay or onlay.  

  • An inlay is similar in scope to a filling and is contained within the top edges (cusp tips) of the tooth
  • An onlay is more expansive, stretching over the cusps edges.

Many dentists consider inlays and onlays to be a preferred procedure in the face of damaged or decaying teeth if it falls under these proper guidelines. Lifetime Family Dentistry performs them regularly as an important tool in our toolbox.

Why Inlays and Onlays

The processes and materials of inlays and onlays are intended for restoration and repair, with a focus on preserving and bolstering as much of the patient’s original tooth structure as possible.

Basic rule of thumb: if less than half of the tooth’s bite area is damaged, a dental filling is more appropriate, but any more than half, and it’s time to consider inlays and onlays. In fact, the vast majority of inlays and onlays are performed to remove fillings that have outlived their usefulness either because of increased cavity corrosion, an expansion of damage, or simply outdated materials that are affecting the tooth’s health.

This means that if your filling is causing pain, feeling loose, or is a “silver filling,” but the tooth doesn’t seem damaged enough for a crown, you should ask Lifetime Family Dental whether this restorative process is right for you.

How the Process Works

The process is quite simple and takes two quick visits to the Lifetime Family Dental office in Raleigh. The first visit focuses on removing the decay and damage after making sure that you are numbed with a local anesthetic. After the cleaning and preparation is complete, a mold is taken of the damaged tooth, which is sent to the lab for an exacting match down to the micro-millimeter. Lifetime Family Dental will create a temporary restoration (or filling) to protect the tooth while we wait for the inlay or onlay to be completed.

When you return for the second visit, your inlay or onlay will be waiting, Lifetime Family Dental will carefully inspect it and examine the preciseness of the fit. Then, it will be bonded to the tooth with a resilient adhesive resin and finishing the process with a polished finish.

Call Lifetime Family Dentistry for More Information

Inlays and onlays are simple procedures we perform for those here in the Raleigh Durham area, regularly. If you suspect you are in need of this procedure, give us a call today to schedule a consultation.