Porcelain inlays and onlay are used to replace larger areas of tooth decay. They may be recommended by your dentist instead of having an ordinary filling, as these restorations help to give more strength to the remaining tooth structure than could be achieved through using tooth colored composite resin.
What is an Inlay, and why might it be Necessary?
If you look at your back teeth you will see they consist of a flatter surface in the center of the tooth that is surrounded by four or five raised points. The raised points are called cusps, and help to guide the movements of your jaw as you bite and chew food. The flatter surface in the middle is used for grinding food, making it easier to swallow. This flat chewing surface is particularly vulnerable to decay as it contains lots of tiny grooves and fissures that make it difficult to clean thoroughly. A porcelain inlay replaces the central chewing area of the tooth, restoring the tooth to full function so you can chew food normally without any fear of pain.
What is an Onlay, and Why Might I Need One?
An onlay replaces at least part of the chewing surface of your tooth, as well as one or more of the cusps, the raised points on the outer edges of the tooth. It is used if your tooth has substantial decay, but if it doesn’t quite require a crown that would cover the entire tooth. Once the onlay is in place you should be able to bite and chew food perfectly normally.
The procedure for having a Porcelain Inlay or Onlay
Your dentist will numb the affected tooth so they can remove the decay. They will only remove the minimum amount necessary during this preservative dental procedure. The next step depends on whether the filling will be made while you wait, or if it will be constructed in our dental laboratory. If it is to be constructed in our laboratory, then your dentist will take an impression of the tooth that will be cast up in dental plaster and used to fabricate the porcelain inlay. The shade will be exactly matched to the rest of your remaining tooth so it blends in beautifully.
If you are having a CEREC inlay or onlay, then your tooth will be scanned using a special camera as there is no need for dental impressions. The information is used to design and make your porcelain restoration, and it can be fitted in the same appointment. It will be custom finished to match your natural tooth, before being bonded into place.
Caring for Your Inlay or Onlay
You can brush and floss your inlay or onlay in exactly the same way you would your natural teeth, and it is important to keep it as clean as possible. This will help ensure your tooth does not decay any further, and will help to prolong the life of your restoration. It will be carefully checked at each appointment, and this is to make sure that the edges or margins still fit tightly up against your natural tooth. It is essential to retain this seal as it will prevent any bacteria from entering the tooth and causing more decay. With proper care your new inlay or onlay could last ten years or even longer before you need to replace it.
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