In the past, patients with moderate tooth damage needed to make a difficult choice. They needed to decide whether to opt for a filling and risk further damage in the long run, or remove parts of the tooth that remained healthy by choosing a dental crown. Neither option offered an ideal solution to patients who wanted to preserve the tooth structure they still had, while repairing damage and maintaining chewing force.
Fortunately, inlays and onlays now offer the best of both worlds. These options add upon existing healthy tooth structure and help to strengthen teeth rather than weaken them. As a result, they have become a favourite among patients and restorative dental hygienists alike.
Grads of Restorative Dental Hygiene Courses Know the Benefits of Inlays and Onlays
The fact that inlays and onlays allow patients to keep healthy tooth structure can often be reason enough for them to opt for it. However, the benefits of inlays and onlays extend far beyond these initial perks.
To start with, inlays and onlays can be very durable and last for decades when properly maintained. In addition, inlays and onlays can be made to match a patienta��s tooth colour, meaning that these repairs can be integrated seamlessly into a patienta��s smile. Patients who feel self-conscious or who are worried about how a repair will look can be especially relieved upon learning this. As graduates of restorative dental hygiene courses know, health and functionality come first, but aesthetics and appearance are also important considerations with dental work. In some cases, patients with metal fillings might even want to replace their fillings with inlays for a more natural look.
The Difference Between Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and onlays are similar in many respects. Both can be made from composite resin, tooth colored porcelain, or even gold, which are then bonded or cemented into place on the tooth. What sets these two options apart is that inlays are meant for less extensive damage than onlays. Damage that affects the area in between the cusps of the tooth can be repaired by inlays, while onlays can replace one or more tooth cusps.
As graduates of dental hygienist school well know, a cusp is the part of a tootha��s surface that protrudes slightly. Canine teeth, for example, have just one cusp, while molars can have four and even five. Onlays can replace all cusps of a damaged tooth if needed. As a result, while inlays and onlays are very similar, inlays are often seen as an alternative to fillings, while onlays are often seen as an alternative to crowns.
How Inlays and Onlays Are Installed
Restorative dental hygienists know that inlays and onlays can either be direct or indirect. Indirect restorations involve two appointments for patients. During the first appointment, the tooth is cleaned and damaged portions are removed. An impression of the tooth will be made, which will then be sent to a laboratory for processing. A temporary inlay, onlay, or filling is then placed over the tooth to protect it from any further damage while waiting for the permanent inlay or onlay to be created by the lab. During a second visit, the permanent inlay or onlay is cemented or bonded into place.
Some offices may also offer direct inlays and onlays. With new CEREC technology, some dental offices are now able to create inlays and onlays in house, meaning that patients can have one installed in just one visit. Detailed 3D imaging technology allows dental professionals to bypass impressions and long wait times, providing faster and more convenient treatment.
Do you want to learn more about inlays, onlays, and other restorative procedures?
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