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What is an Onlay or Inlay?

Coquitlam’s Altitude Dental specializes in Tooth Restoration

A dental onlay or inlay looks like a filling but it is created in a laboratory. At Altitude Dental in Coquitlam, we work on tooth restoration that best fits your specific needs. An only or inlay is used for repair work. When a back tooth needs repair, and the damage is too large for a filling but not large enough to need a crown, then an onlay or an inlay is recommended.

Most onlays and inlays are made from porcelain for a more natural appearance. The shade of the restoration is based upon your current tooth shade or it can be made lighter if you are planning to whiten your teeth - we make sure to spend the time with you selecting the right shade. Onlays and inlays can also be made of gold but this is not as common today.

What is the difference between an onlay and an inlay?

The main difference between the two restorations is where they are placed on the tooth. An inlay is used only on the biting surface of the tooth and does not involve any cusps of the teeth. An onlay covers the biting surface of the tooth plus one or more cusps. Sometimes onlays are referred to as three-quarter crowns.

What is the procedure like?

The fitting and placement of an onlay or inlay requires two visits.

During the first visit, we remove the damaged tooth structure. We then take impressions of your tooth, which serves as the model from which our laboratory will custom-make your inlay or onlay. A temporary covering is placed on your tooth for protection while your restoration is being made.

During the second visit, we remove the temporary covering and then check and fit your new permanent restoration. If the new tooth restoration is the right size and color, it is cemented into place.

What is it like after I get my onlay or inlay?

Following the insertion of the restoration it is common for the tooth, and the neighbouring teeth, to be slightly sensitive for one to two weeks. Sometimes the onlay or inlay will need to be adjusted (the height, edges, etc.).  The restored tooth will feel like your natural teeth except for the porcelain being slightly smoother than your natural tooth structure.

How long will my onlay or inlay last? Will it need any special care?

Onlays and inlays are durable. Many patients have had success with their restoration lasting many years. However, the remaining natural tooth structure can still break, fracture and decay. Brushing, flossing and hygiene visits on a regular basis will ensure the health of your natural teeth and help you keep your onlay or inlay for many years.

Do I need an onlay or an inlay?

Patients have onlays or inlays placed on their teeth for various reasons. We recommend onlays or inlays when:

  • the damage to the tooth is too large for a filling or too small for a crown.
  • a patient has allergies or medical conditions that prevent the use of filling materials in their teeth.

Tooth restoration work is sensitive and important to the health of your teeth and the look and feel of your mouth.  If you have dental issues such as a damaged tooth, please call us at Altitude Dental to book your appointment.

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