Dentist in Brunswick, ME Discusses Dental Inlays & Onlays

Inlays and onlays are variations of the same type of dental treatment. Conceptually similar to a crown, inlays and onlays fall into a category of restorations known as indirect restorations. What this means is that the filling itself is fabricated outside the mouth prior to being placed on the tooth. Inlays and onlays represent alternatives to both large fillings and crowns. Large fillings are inherently less stable and more prone to recurrent decay, whereas crowns require removal of more tooth structure than do inlays and onlays. The difference between inlays and onlays is that an inlay fills a space within the tooth, while an onlay fills space within the tooth in addition to replacing one or more cusps. 
Why Would I Need an Inlay or Onlay?
Your dentist in Brunswick, ME may prescribe either for similar reasons a crown would be advised: large area of decay, broken tooth, etc. Further, he or she may offer this treatment in opposition to a large filling due to the superior fit and aesthetics of inlays and onlays. Because they are fabricated outside the mouth, the degree of precision with which they are made is significantly higher than a standard filling. Modern dental materials make it possible to have an inlay or onlay that is nearly indistinguishable from natural tooth. 
What is the Process for Getting an Inlay or Onlay?
In most cases, two appointments are required for preparation and delivery of an inlay or onaly. At the first appointment, your dentist will prepare the area of the tooth to be restored by removing decay and shaping it in a way that is optimal for superior fit of the restoration. With this completed, an impression is made of the tooth that will be sent to a dental lab and used for fabrication. In the interim, a temporary restoration closely mimicking the final product will be made and glued to the tooth. 
At the second appointment, the temporary is removed and the inlay or onlay is tried in place. The dentist will assess the restoration for proper fit and correct occlusion (bite relationships). Once these are satisfactory the restoration is bonded in place and the margins (the area where the restoration meets the tooth) are polished.
Although seemingly decreasing in their usage, inlays and onlays are restorations with excellent strength and longevity. And, thanks to modern dental materials, they are generally highly aesthetic as well.