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Onlays and Inlays — What Are They?

The most common way to fix minor problems with individual teeth (e.g. fixing cavities or chipped teeth) is by applying fillings to the damaged tooth. Larger defects like cracked teeth or severely broken down teeth are fixed by crowns. Both of these dental restorations protect the teeth while restoring their function. Dr. Parsa T. Zadeh is skilled with the application of both fillings and crowns. He will evaluate your dental problem and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your condition. However, if you have a large cavity or a tooth that is badly damaged but does not warrant a crown, you may be given onlays or inlays, depending on the size of your problem.

Inlay and onlay type restorations are the best of both worlds among teeth restorations. They are as conservative as fillings and as long lasting as crowns. They also allow Dr. Zadeh to save more of your tooth by focusing on preserving the structure rather than shaving down the tooth for a crown or extracting it outright.

Dental Inlays

A dental inlay is a dental filling, fabricated outside of the mouth from a very strong material that covers the hole made from drilling out a cavity. An inlay is typically made from porcelain or gold. The type of inlay that Dr. Zadeh recommends depends on the size and location of the problem as well as your personal habits. For example, if the cavity is located on a front tooth or a tooth that shows when you speak, Dr. Zadeh may recommend a porcelain inlay in order to help hide the restoration when you speak or smile. However, if you grind your teeth, you may need a more durable material like gold that is less likely to chip or break under pressure.

The greatest advantage of inlays over fillings is their longevity. While filling materials can deteriorate and break down over the years, inlay materials like solid gold or pressed porcelain can survive a lifetime without breaking down. The greatest disadvantage of dental inlays over fillings is the fact that they are made in the lab, which means they take longer to manufacture and cost a bit more. Overall, inlays are a superior way of restoring your teeth. Their durability and longevity give them significant advantages over dental fillings.

Dental Onlays

A dental onlay has the same purpose as a dental inlay: to cover a damaged area of a tooth. However, an onlay covers a larger area of the tooth than an inlay. Onlays are used when the tooth defect is larger than can be fixed by inlays or fillings.

An onlay covers the entire cusp of the tooth and is typically used when the tooth is broken or cracked. These dental devices are typically made from porcelain or gold. A great advantage of an onlay over a crown is its conservative preparation of the tooth. However, in cases where the tooth is severely broken down, a crown would be the only option for restoration of your tooth.

Though, if there is a situation that calls for an onlay, Dr. Zadeh will work with you to figure out the course of treatment and make his recommendations for restoration dentistry. If the tooth may continue to deteriorate due to an internal issue, a root canal and crown or even an extraction may be recommended. However, if the situation simply calls for an onlay, then an onlay will be prepared for you and installed.

Creation of Your Onlay or Inlay

Dr. Zadeh uses e.max pressed porcelain in our in-house lab to create these restorations. The fact that Dr. Zadeh uses an in-house laboratory and CEREC machine to craft all of your dental appliances helps us keep down your time and money costs.

Both dental inlays and dental onlays typically require two office visits to complete. First, Dr. Zadeh will prepare the tooth for the inlay or onlay by shaping the tooth appropriately. Then, the laboratory will cast the gold or press the porcelain as needed. At a subsequent visit, they will be cemented or bonded on the teeth, and then you can resume your normal activities. The whole procedure is only slightly longer than getting a filling. As with all procedures, Dr. Zadeh will offer all of the amenities of our office to you, including IV sedation if you have a long procedure or are a nervous patient. Your health and comfort are our priority.

If you are interested in learning more about inlays and onlays in Beverly Hills, California, please call us at 310-273-2020 or email our appointment coordinator to set up a free consultation with our dentist.