Inlays and Onlays, the Cavity Treatment You’ve Probably Never Heard Of   

Over the past 25 years, Dr. Simons and his team of experienced hygienists have helped thousands of patients, just like you, treat their cavities as well as prevent new ones from forming.

From traditional fillings, to dental crowns, to inlays and onlays, we have many options for taking care of your cavities. So, it’s no wonder that many patients are confused as to which cavity treatment is right for them.

However, there is actually a fairly simple process that Dr. Simons will use to determine which procedure is right for you:

  • If your tooth is structurally sound, or free of severe cracking and decay, we will likely prescribe a traditional, or direct, filling to address your cavity.
  • If a cavity has damaged a large portion of your tooth, we often propose a dental crown.
  • If your tooth is slightly damaged and unable to support a filling, but not quite damaged enough for a full, dental crown, we will likely recommend inlays and onlays.

Now, that you have a better understanding on how we traditionally determine which cavity treatment option is best for our clients, it is essential that you understand what inlays and onlays are to know if they may be right for you.

What Are Inlays and Onlays?

An inlay is a pre-molded filling fitted to the top of your tooth, but does not extend over the cusps of your tooth.

Not sure what and where your tooth cusps are? No worries, here’s an easy way to find them. Take your fingers (after a good hand washing of course) and feel around the top chewing surface of your tooth for the pointed features. Feel them? These are the cusps.

There are two scenarios for which Dr. Simons will generally recommend an inlay:

  1. When the chewing surface of your tooth is either broken, fractured or decayed, but the cusps have not been affected
  2. When a large dental filling, also known as an onlay, or a full crown is not deemed appropriate

An onlay, also referred to as a traditional filling, is a method used to repair a tooth that has more extensive damage. This type of filling is generally recommended for the following tooth scenarios:

  1. When your tooth is badly decayed
  2. When your tooth has a cavity or severe surface damage that extends beyond more than one cusp of your tooth

The only way to know for sure which option is right for you is to meet with Dr. Simons so he can properly assess your teeth. After he gets a good look inside and all around your mouth, he’ll walk you through what he thinks the best next steps should be and why.

The Inlay and Onlay Procedures:

Number of Appointments: Approximately two visits (depending on severity) 

While we often refer to inlays and onlays together, because they are so similar, when it comes to their procedures, their differences become a bit more prominent.

Below is a step-by-step description of what you can expect:

If an inlay makes the most sense for you

Step 1: Dr. Simons will likely use some local anesthesia to numb the tooth and surrounding gums.

Step 2: Using a dental drill, the doctor will clean out any decay that has formed in the tooth.

Step 3: Once the decay has been removed, Dr. Simons will take an impression and expertly craft an inlay to cover the now treated area. Inlays are generally manufactured from porcelain or composite resin, and are expertly matched to the color of your tooth.

If an onlay makes more sense for you

Step 1: Dr. Simons will numb the entire tooth and surrounding gums with a local anesthesia before drilling the tooth to remove decay.

Step 2: Once your tooth has been cleaned out, an impression will be taken before a temporary onlay is inserted.

Step 3: During your next appointment, Dr. Simons will remove the temporary onlay and adhere your new, permanent one in its place.

If you have a toothache, or think you might have a cavity, we encourage you to contact Reading Dental today to set up a consultation appointment with Dr. Simons. It’s essential to take care of these kinds of dental issues promptly, especially if you are in pain or experiencing some discomfort.

When you come in for your appointment, Dr. Simons will thoroughly evaluate the tooth that is causing you problems, as well as provide you with his professional opinion on whether a traditional filling, inlay and onlay, or a crown is right for you.

Of course, no two patients, teeth or smiles are the same, so we want to meet with you in person to give you our best advice. To get Dr. Simon’s personalized professional recommendation, call us at 781-944-5020, or fill out our quick form on the right to set up your complimentary consultation.