What Are Inlays and Onlays in Dental Work?

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Dental restorations improve your oral health while enhancing the appearance of your smile. Inlays and onlays are one of the restorations available to dentists, which they may utilize in your treatment plan. In Crystal Lake, experienced dentist Dr. Preet Sandhu will help you restore, rejuvenate and refresh your pearly whites.

In general, inlays and onlays are used to repair:

  • Cracks and fractures
  • Discoloration and stains
  • Decay
  • Worn edges

An inlay or onlay may be used to replace an old, damaged filling that is no longer doing its job. Inlays and onlays are designed to match the color of your teeth, so they blend seamlessly into your smile. Unlike a dental filling, inlays and onlays are custom designed from a mold of your tooth. While a filling is applied in layers over a select area on the tooth, an inlay or onlay is created from a durable piece of porcelain and it looks like real tooth structure. The entire porcelain piece is placed over an area of the tooth, similar to the way a tooth crown is placed as one piece.

Inlays and onlays provide more coverage than a dental filling, and allow Dr. Sandhu to conserve as much of the remaining healthy tooth structure as possible. A dental crown requires a margin of tooth on all sides to be reduced, so that the crown can fit over the vulnerable tooth like a protective cap.

Inlays and onlays at Dr. Sandhu's practice are made from strong, attractive porcelain. This material is very durable. It strengthens the tooth structure while simultaneously improving the tooth's appearance. It has the natural luster and sheen of real tooth enamel, as well as an array of shades that are matched precisely to your teeth.

How an Inlay Works

An inlay lays within the cusps of a tooth, on the chewing surface. The "cusps" of a tooth are those raised points on the molars. An inlay is typically used for a small area of decay or damage.

Illustration of what dental inlays look like in the teeth

How an Onlay Works

An onlay covers the area between the cusps and extends over one or more cusps. It provides greater coverage than an inlay.

Illustration showing what a dental onlay looks like on a tooth

What About a Dental Crown?

A dental crown is another option for restoring a damaged, vulnerable tooth. It provides comprehensive protection because it covers the entire surface, cusps, and sides of a tooth. A crown may be necessary to repair:

  • Deeply fractured or broken teeth
  • Severe tooth wear
  • A tooth that has cracked into multiple sections
  • Significant tooth decay, which may require root canal treatment

Crowns are also affixed to the top of dental implants to replace a missing tooth and tooth root.

Find Out How to Restore Your Healthiest, Most Attractive Smile

If you live in Crystal Lake or the surrounding areas of Illinois, experienced dentist Dr. Preet Sandhu can help you rejuvenate your smile with restorations like inlays and onlays. To arrange a consultation at our practice, please call the staff at 815-893-6345.