August 2, 2021 Frank P. Ruffino DDS

dental inlays and onlays shelby township mi dentists

What are Dental Inlays and Onlays?

Dental inlays and onlays are like a stepping stone between fillings and crowns. They allow us to restore your tooth to its full function and appearance while preserving as much natural tooth structure as possible.

Your dentist may recommend an inlay or onlay if you have teeth that are cracked, chipped, or decayed.

Here’s what else you should know.

How Are Dental Inlays and Onlays Different From Other Restorations?

Dental inlays and onlays are different from other restorations, such as crowns. As shown in the diagram below, dental inlays and onlays don’t cover the entire tooth. This makes them a more conservative treatment than dental crowns or root canals.

diagram of dental inlay, onlay, and crown

Shown from left to right: inlay, onlay, and crown.

An inlay restores the inner chewing surfaces of your teeth while an onlay will include one or more cusps. Cusps are the raised points on the chewing surface of your tooth. For example, the onlay in the above diagram covers four cusps.

What are Dental Crowns?

A dental crown covers the entire visible part of your tooth above the gum line. As such, your dentist will need to file down and shape your tooth so the crown can fit over top.

diagram of a dental crown

Our dentists may recommend a dental crown to restore a fragile tooth.

Our dentists use CEREC technology to plan and place dental crowns in one appointment. That way, you don’t have to wait weeks for an outside lab to make your new dental crown.

Here’s what some of our patients have to say about our same-day crowns.

A lot of people will get a crown and they have to…make another appointment just to get their crown. He does them all the same day.

In general, our dentists will recommend a dental crown to restore a tooth with a cavity or crack that’s too big to be treated by a filling, inlay, or onlay.

What Can I Expect During the Procedure?

First, your dentist will inject a local anesthetic into the soft tissue by your tooth. While you’ll feel a small pinch, this sensation will quickly give way to numbness. Once you’re numb and comfortable, your dentist will start to remove any decayed or damaged tooth structure.

When the tooth is prepped, your dentist will take digital dental impressions. They’ll also use a shade guide so your new inlay or onlay matches the rest of your smile.

shade guide for dental inlays and onlays

Your dentist will use a shade guide to select the perfect color for your inlay or onlay.

Next, your dentist will send your impressions to a dental lab that will create your porcelain inlay or onlay. In the meantime, they’ll place a temporary restoration in your tooth to protect it until your next appointment.

When you return to our office, your inlay or onlay will be ready for placement. Your dentist will remove the temporary restoration and replace it with the permanent inlay or onlay.

Before bonding the inlay or onlay to your tooth, they’ll ensure that it’s the correct size, shape, and shade. That way, the restoration will blend in seamlessly with the rest of your tooth.

Once your dentist is happy with how the inlay or onlay looks, they’ll bond it to your tooth with permanent cement. As shown in the image below, your dentist may use a special curing light so the restoration forms a strong attachment to your tooth.

diagram of dental inlay being cured

A special light is used to cure the inlay so it bonds to the tooth.

Next, your dentist will smooth and polish the restoration so it’s not rough to the tongue. They’ll also check your bite to ensure the inlay or onlay fits comfortably and won’t cause any issues with biting and chewing.

How Do I Care for My Inlay or Onlay?

Continue to practice good oral hygiene at home. This means brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time. To ensure that you’re brushing for long enough, we recommend watching the clock while you brush and dedicating 30 seconds to each quadrant of your mouth.

You should also floss your teeth once a day to remove any food particles or plaque hiding between teeth.

woman flossing with dental inlays and onlays

Flossing will help you avoid decay between teeth.

In general, an inlay or onlay may last between 10 and 30 years when you practice good oral hygiene. The better you take care of your smile, the longer your inlay or onlay will last.

Learn More About Dental Inlays and Onlays

Our family dentists in Shelby Township, MI, are accepting new patients and would be more than happy to welcome you to our practice.

Aren’t sure if you’re ready to commit to a new dentist? Here’s what one of our patients has to say about their experience with our office.

I’ve been a patient of Dr. Ruffino’s for the last 11 years. They treat you like family.

To request an appointment, please call the dental office of Frank P. Ruffino DDS at (586) 799-4240. You may also fill out our online contact form and someone from our team will reach out to you soon.

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