Inlays and Onlays

Dec 11, 2012 @ 10:08 AM — by Lauren Shanard

Williston Inlays and OnlaysInlays and onlays are dental restorations that are used to replace tooth material that has been lost to decay on the biting surface of a rear tooth. At our Williston cosmetic dentistry practice, Dr. Lauren Shanard recommends inlays and onlays when a simple filling will not provide the support needed to withstand the daily pressure of biting and chewing. Read on to find out how inlays and onlays can be used to treat teeth damaged by tooth decay.

How Tooth Decay Damages the Teeth

Tooth decay is one of the most common dental problems that affects patients of all ages. Plaque can build up along the gum line, in between the teeth, and on the biting surfaces of the teeth due to poor brushing and flossing habits. You see, even when patients brush and floss daily, improper techniques can leave food particles and bacteria on the teeth. For example, many patients do not thoroughly brush the teeth in the rear of the mouth because they are more difficult to reach and the action may cause a gagging reflex. When flossing, patients may fail to bring the floss all the way down each side of the tooth. When the remaining plaque is allowed to linger on the teeth for more than 24 hours, it begins to harden. This hardened plaque is called calculus, or tartar, and is much harder to remove from the teeth. The use of a dental pick or a professional cleaning is needed to remove tartar from the teeth and gum line.

Once tartar has formed, it begins to destroy healthy tooth structure and gum tissue. The tartar begins to eat away at the enamel and dentin layers of the tooth, creating a hole (or cavity) in the tooth. To treat the condition, tartar and bacteria must be removed from the tooth, and the cavity filled in with a durable dental material. For smaller cavities, a composite resin material, or tooth-colored filling, can be applied to close the hole and strengthen the tooth. When the tooth decay is more significant and affects the biting surface of a back tooth, an inlay or onlay may be used to support the tooth.

How Inlays and Onlays Treat Tooth Decay

Inlays and onlays are made of porcelain, which is more resilient than the composite resin used in dental fillings. The inlay or onlay is custom fabricated for the patient in a dental lab. The inlay is crafted to fill in the indented portion on the biting surface of a rear tooth. Slightly larger than inlays, onlays are made to cover the indented part of the tooth, as well as one or more of the projecting cusps, which are critical in keeping the patient's bite aligned.

The inlays and onlays are bonded to the patient's tooth using a strong dental adhesive. Once in place, our dentists will check your bite and further refine the shape of the restoration.

For our patients in Williston, dental crowns can be used to provide even more support to the tooth than inlays and onlays. Contact Contemporary Dental Arts to schedule an appointment and find out which treatment is right for you.

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