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The advancements of dental technology have been amazing over the years, and dental onlays and inlays are great examples of this development. While dental fillings and crowns are still common practices of mainstream dentists, onlays and inlays are becoming increasingly popular. Onlays and inlays are different methods of achieving the same goal that crowns and fillings achieve. Namely, they repair damaged or decayed teeth, protecting them, and helping them last longer. Sometimes these methods are known as “indirect fillings”. Onlays and inlays are often used to replace old fillings, which over time can expand or contract, leading to tooth damage or decay. There are a number of reasons why someone would want to opt for an onlay or inlay as alternatives to other procedures.

No matter how much attention you pay on your oral hygiene, an errant cavity can still manage to sneak through occasionally. The sooner you realize the unthinkable has happened, the quicker you can take care of it. Quick action will better the chances that it will not reoccur or affect your neighboring teeth. However, once your dentist removes the decayed part of your tooth they will need to fill it with something, what that is, is up to you.

Dental Onlays in Idaho Falls

Dental Onlays and Inlays in Idaho FallsDental onlays are often used as alternatives to traditional dental fillings, and provide stable repairs to teeth that have decayed or have been damaged in some way. One way in which dental onlays are different than dental fillings is that the latter is filled during a dental visit, while the former is created inside of a laboratory and is then bonded to the patient’s tooth. Onlays are placed along one or more cusps (individual points) on the tooth and along its outer sides. Dental onlays are different from dental inlays in that the latter involves restorative measures for the surface between the cusps.

An onlay can also be an alternative to a dental crown, in that they are often less expensive than crowns. Onlays also tend to preserve more of your original tooth structure, allowing dentists to retain the healthy portions of the tooth as they restore the damaged areas, leading to a stronger, longer-lasting tooth. Generally, onlays are more appropriate than crowns when the damage is not extensive and extends to the flossing area.

Dental onlays come in a variety of forms, consisting of different materials. These commonly include gold, composite resin, or porcelain. The best material to use depends on a number of factors, such as the location of the tooth requiring the onlay. A damaged molar may benefit the most from a gold onlay, while porcelain is more appropriate for front teeth. Resin materials are a good idea for misaligned teeth or for patients who are prone to teeth grinding. Dental onlays are generally completed within two visits to your dentist. The first visit involves tooth preparation for the placement of your onlays. Impressions of the teeth are made and sent over to the laboratory where the onlays are created. During your second visit, your dental onlays will be bonded to your teeth and the margins will be polished to make them feel and perform like natural teeth. Onlays are generally easy to clean, as they can be fitted more easily to your tooth than a crown and require less preparation to do so. Onlays are also better at retaining their original color than crowns or dental fillings.

When it comes to consistency, onlays are a better option than composite fillings, which have a tendency to shrink while they cure. Composite fillings can also fluctuate in size depending on temperature, which can lead to microfractures. Onlays retain their size and shape much more consistently. The materials used for dental onlays are stable and resilient.

Dental Inlays in Idaho Falls

Dental Inlays - Dental Onlays and Inlays in Idaho Falls

Courtesy of DRosenbach and Wikipedia Creative Commons

Inlays are very similar to onlays with only a slight difference. Dental inlays adhere to the surface between the cusps of the tooth, rather than along one or more cusps and the sides of the tooth. They are generally composed of porcelain or resin material. Gold is also an option. People generally go for dental inlays because they are more durable than fillings, and are often more affordable than crowns.

As with onlays, these are created in a laboratory after a molding has been taken of the damaged tooth. Your dental inlay will also be made to match the color of the damaged tooth and the teeth surrounding it. As your inlay is being created, your dentist will fit you with a temporary inlay to use in the meantime. Dental inlays are another way of making repairs to damaged teeth without having to shave away too much of your original tooth. This method allows your dentist to preserve your tooth better, keeping it stronger and more resilient. A dental inlay will make your tooth stronger, and a porcelain inlay will not expand or contract over time, which will preserve the tooth’s strength.

You care for your dental onlays and inlays in the same way you care for your natural teeth: by maintaining good oral hygiene. Be sure to brush and floss regularly. Keeping up on your dental health will mean fewer trips to the dentist!

Dental Composites

A relatively comfortable procedure compared to fillings, composites are used to restore teeth that are fractured, chipped, discolored or misaligned. The process to get you fitted out with a complete composite is not only one of the easiest and quickest procedures but also quite inexpensive. It may require some work on the affected tooth but in most cases, there is no need to actually do any additional work on your teeth. This makes it significantly less troublesome than crowns and veneers. To prepare for the procedure the surface of the tooth is lightly adjusted once that is done, your dentist can apply the bonding formula. When the formula hardens, a plastic resin is applied which is then sculpted into the desired shape then trimmed and polished into a natural look.


The biggest advantage of composites over gold and silver fillings is that the color and shade of the filling can be closely matched to the actual color of existing teeth. The bonding formula also provides support to your existing tooth’s structure. A composite solution can also be used in a variety of other ways as well, not just as a substitute for fillings, such as repairing minor nicks and chips. It is pretty clear that a chipped tooth does not have to be a disaster even though it may feel like it at the time. Thanks to composites, everyone will soon be able to admire the brilliance of your smile again within a very short time.

Metal Fillings

The most commonly used types of fillings are gold, silver or amalgam, and composite resin. Depending on your own priorities, each of them has its advantages and disadvantages. Gold fillings do not erode, so they can last for at least 10 years and in a lot of cases a lot longer. They are strong and give you a very strong and durable bite. However, they are more expensive and require more than one visit to your dentist. Also depending on your taste, they can also be less than aesthetically pleasing. Silver fillings or amalgams also have a good lifespan of 10 to 15 years, and while not as strong as gold, they are very effective. The advantage is that they are also less expensive than both gold and composite fillings. However, they do not match the color of your teeth and can be distracting. They also require more work to put in place and can create a grayish hue to the tooth over time.

Your choice will entirely depend on your needs and your priorities. Make sure to talk to your dentist before deciding. Their experience will provide you with all of your options and can help guide you to the best solution.

Dental Inlay Image: By DRosenbach at English Wikipedia – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons by Kauczuk using CommonsHelper., Attribution, Link

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