Do you have cavities or other damage to your teeth? At See Me Smile Dental & Orthodontics in Santa Barbara, we offer amazing dental technologies that can restore your teeth. You probably have heard of dental fillings, but have you heard of inlays and onlays?
Dental inlays and onlays are alternatives to traditional dental fillings and crowns. They have many benefits if you have cracked teeth or mild to moderate tooth decay.
A dental inlay is a special tooth restoration covering that is placed inside the boundary of the tops of the tooth (called the “cusps”).
A dental onlay is a type of dental restoration that is very similar to an inlay, only it extends over the side of the teeth.
Dental inlays and onlays are used to repair tooth damage. They are an alternative to traditional fillings and crowns. They can be used for:
Inlays and onlays are sometimes used when a dental filling might weaken the tooth or a crown might require too much tooth removal to secure. Both inlays and onlays require less removal of existing teeth material, which is why they are often preferred to fillings and crowns.
If your tooth decay or damage lies between the cusps of the teeth, then a dental inlay might be used. Sometimes they are recommended as a method to replace unwanted or failing metal amalgam fillings.
Dental onlays treat tooth damage that is beyond the cusps of the tops of the teeth. Because they don’t require much removal of a tooth’s surface, they are often used instead of crowns or to avoid more invasive treatment in the future via dental crowns, bridges, or implants.
While dental inlays and onlays can be made of a variety of materials, including composite resin, gold, and porcelain, at See Me Smile Dental & Orthodontics in Santa Barbara, we typically recommend and use porcelain due to its durability and ability to blend in with teeth.
Porcelain inlays or onlays lasts a long time and looks more natural than metal fillings. They add structural integrity to teeth and prevent new cavities.
Dental inlays and onlays are often used to replace metal fillings. Many people want their old metal amalgam fillings replaced for a variety of reasons. One reason is the obvious “look” of metal fillings.
Another is a concern over the possible inclusion of mercury in old metal amalgam fillings. A third reason to replace old metal fillings is that they can expand or contract due to food temperature. This can weaken the teeth.
Porcelain inlays and onlays are virtually invisible and are totally non-toxic. They will not expand or resize when hot or cold foods are eaten. For these reasons and more, inlays and onlays made out of porcelain are often preferred as a safe alternative to metal amalgam fillings.
Our porcelain inlays and onlays are made from a very strong and resilient tooth-colored material and thus they blend in with your teeth. As already mentioned, they save more of your original tooth enamel and structure because they don’t require much removal of it to be placed.
In fact, porcelain inlays and onlays are so strong, they may help strengthen your teeth by approximately 75 percent! They can also last almost three decades – that’s 30 years – which may be as much as three or more times longer than conventional fillings.
Because porcelain inlays and onlays last so long and strengthen teeth, they reduce and prevent worsening of tooth decay and prevent future treatment.
Dental fillings still have their place and are generally used for smaller cavities. They are quite affordable and with composite resin, can be pretty much invisible.
But what about for larger cavities and tooth damage? While sometimes a dental filling is necessary, an inlay or onlay is always preferred if possible. One of the main reasons for this, besides their long-lasting durability, is the strength factor. Metal amalgam fillings actually weaken teeth, reducing strength by as much as 50 percent.
Inlays and onlays are a great option for teeth restorations that require more strength than fillings but don’t need a total restoration as with a crown.
When you visit us at See Me Smile Dental & Orthodontics in Santa Barbara, we will start with a comprehensive oral examination to identify what is going on and whether you need a crown, filling, inlay, or onlay.
We usually take impressions of your teeth to create the custom inlay or onlay. You may be sent home with a temporary inlay or onlay while your custom tooth restoration is being created. We will also clean, treat, and prepare the teeth for the protective inlay or onlay.
Once the inlay or onlay is ready, we will secure it to your teeth. The recovery time is minimal, and you will leave feeling like a new person with a brand new mouth.
If you have a cavity or other tooth decay that needs attention, contact us at See Me Smile Dental & Orthodontics in Santa Barbara, California. A dental inlay or onlay may be just what you need. If you have existing metal amalgam fillings you’d like replaced, you should also let us know. We may be able to do the job with a strong and long-lasting porcelain inlay or onlay.
Need dental restoration in Santa Barbara, possibly with inlays or onlays? Contact us at See Me Smile Dental & Orthodontics today at (805) 284-0826 to schedule your appointment. We are experts in restorative dental techniques to give you an amazing, beautiful smile you’ll be proud to show off.