Beautiful restorations are an important part of retaining and preserving your natural smile. As your Sierra Vista, AZ area dental provider, at Cochise Caring Dentistry dental inlays and onlays are the preferred type of restoration when your tooth is too damaged for a filling but not damaged enough for a crown (otherwise known as a dental cap or tooth cap).
When Do You Need a Dental Inlay or Onlay?
Damage to a tooth that is too severe to support a filling but not severe enough to require a dental cap calls for a dental inlay or onlay. Using a filling when a dental inlay is needed results in the continued decay of the remaining tooth, which eventually leads to the need for a root canal. Receiving a tooth cap or crown when one is not called for results in the unnecessary removal of healthy tooth structure.
Dental inlays are similar to fillings and fit inside the outer edges of the tooth. They can be made out of a variety of materials, but most often they’re made out of tooth-colored porcelain. The inlay procedure requires approximately two visits with Sierra Vista dentist Dr. Steve Wolfington. During the first appointment, you receive a tooth-decay treatment; then impressions are taken and the temporary inlay is applied to the tooth. At the second appointment, the permanent inlay is bonded to the tooth, hiding any signs of imperfection.
Dental onlays, sometimes referred to as partial tooth caps, are similar to inlays in that the procedure is the same and takes place over the course of two days. Like a dental cap, it is a custom-made fitting that we secure to the damaged tooth; however, unlike a dental cap, it only covers a small portion of the affected tooth. Onlays cover one or more of the outer edges of a tooth. They are the conservative alternative to receiving a crown or tooth cap, and they preserve more of your natural tooth.
The most common tooth decay treatments that Dr. Wolfington uses include:
- Fluoride treatments
- Restorations, including fillings, inlays, onlays, and crowns/tooth caps
- Root canals
- In the most extreme cases, extraction