If your dentist discovers that you have a severely decayed or damaged tooth that can’t support a tooth filling, they may recommend a dental inlay or onlay. These tooth restoration treatments can help conserve more of your natural tooth than traditional dental crowns and can also be shaded to match your natural tooth color.
Your dentist wants to help you keep your existing teeth, so if they find that your tooth doesn’t necessarily need a crown, a dental inlay or onlay may be suggested as the best treatment option. But what can you expect during a dental inlays and onlays procedure? This article will help you understand the process.
What is the Difference Between Inlays and Onlays?
Before you head into a dental inlays and onlays procedure, it’s important to first understand the difference between an inlay and an onlay. Dental inlays and onlays offer similar benefits and are both excellent alternatives to dental crowns. The only major difference between the two is that each option covers different parts of a tooth.
- Dental Inlays: These are fitted into grooves within the cusps of your teeth — almost like tooth fillings.
- Dental Onlays: Onlays are used when decay or damage is more extensive and replace the chewing surfaces of teeth.
Dental Inlays and Onlays Procedure
The procedures for both dental inlays and onlays are also similar. Your dentist may require you to come in for two dental visits to complete the treatment, or may be able to complete your treatment in just one visit using CEREC technology. The traditional two-visit procedure is as follows:
- Cleaning and preparing. This involves using special dental instruments to remove damaged or decayed parts of your tooth. You will be numbed with a local anesthetic before your dentist begins the procedure to ensure you are comfortable. They will also be conservative with the removal process to help you keep as much of your natural tooth structure as possible.
- Tooth impression. Your dentist will create the mold or impression by positioning dental putty over your prepared tooth. The mold will then be sent to a dental lab for inlay or onlay fabrication.
- Temporary tooth restoration placement. Because you will have to wait to receive your inlay or onlay, your dentist will place a temporary filling to protect your tooth between appointments.
- Cleaning and preparing. During your second visit, your dentist will clean and prepare your tooth for your permanent inlay or onlay. They will first remove your temporary filling and then fit your tooth restoration in place.
- Fitting and bonding. Your dentist will ensure that your inlay or onlay is fitted perfectly before they bond it to your tooth with dental cement. Once the fit looks and feels right, your tooth restoration will be expertly polished until it is as smooth as your natural teeth.
Same-Day CEREC Inlays & Onlays Procedure
If your dentist suggests CEREC inlays and onlays, they will be able to complete your entire procedure in just one visit. Going this route will allow you to skip the temporary filling and wait time between appointments. Here’s what to expect during a same-day CEREC inlay or onlay procedure:
- Your dentist will clean and prepare your tooth and take a digital impression of your smile. A virtual model of your tooth will then appear on a computer screen.
- Based on the model, your dentist will construct your inlay or onlay using special software that will then send your impression to an in-office milling machine.
- Your ceramic inlay or onlay will then be milled right in office while you wait. It will be sized, shaped and shaded to match your natural smile.
- Your inlay or onlay will then be fitted onto your tooth and bonded once it fits perfectly.
Aftercare for Dental Inlays and Onlays
Following your procedure you may experience tissue sensitivity around your tooth. This should be minimal and only last one or two days. Over-the-counter pain relievers may be all you need to find relief. Your dentist should also provide detailed aftercare instructions which may include the following:
- Avoid hot and cold beverages and sticky foods while you’re still numb or experiencing sensitivity.
- Pay close attention to your bite. If your tooth doesn’t feel right or your bite feels off, contact your dentist right away to avoid possible complications.
- Once numbness or soreness subsides, take care of your new inlay or onlay just as you would the rest of your teeth. Avoid chewing on overly hard or sticky foods to prevent damage or cracks, brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day and see your dentist for regular teeth cleanings and exams. Doing so will allow you to enjoy your inlay or onlay for many years.
Remember: The above information points are to be used as general guidelines and should never be substituted for medical advice. If you think you need an inlay or onlay, contact our experienced dentists for a thorough dental exam.
Dental Inlays & Onlays in Columbus Ohio
If you need a dental inlay or onlay, our experienced Columbus dentists at Capstone Dental offer both traditional and same-day CEREC inlays and onlays. We are committed to helping you conserve more of your natural tooth structure in a comfortable, friendly environment. Contact us to schedule your appointment today.