Conservative dental inlays and onlays restore the natural appearance, feel, and function of damaged teeth

Dr. Erela Katz Rappaport and the Complete Health Dentistry SoCal team have many different ways to rebuild decayed, damaged, broken, and weakened teeth. We generally recommend the most conservative options, as long as the treatment effectively resolves the underlying condition, be it a cavity or a fracture, and promotes the lasting health of the patient.

Dental restorations represent an entire category of services to rebuild portions of the teeth. We’ve listed restorations available at our office in Poway, California, in order from most conservative to least conservative:

  • Dental fillings
  • Dental inlays
  • Dental onlays (also known as “partial crowns”)
  • Dental crowns (or full-coverage crowns)

By placing dental restorations, we can rebuild the lost or deficient tissues and prevent the need to remove the affected teeth. Tooth replacement represents a far less conservative category of dental treatment than the dental restorations listed above, which are designed to replace missing or damaged parts of a tooth. The more conservative the procedure, the less the affected tooth or tissue is altered. Minimal natural tissues are removed to rebuild the tooth. So, it preserves maximum natural tooth structure.

Conservative procedures are generally less invasive and promote patient satisfaction. The healthier the tooth structure that we can preserve, the better the treated tooth will be in strength, long-term function, and durability. These restorations also tend to look more natural by blending in seamlessly with the surrounding tooth structure and the rest of the unaltered teeth in the smile.

Candidates for inlays and onlays

Dr. Rappaport will determine if you are a candidate for a filling, inlay, onlay, or crown following an evaluation of your mouth. Some patients may even be able to address early-stage decay or enamel erosion with preventative services such as fluoride supplementation and dental sealants.

Generally, those patients who are good candidates for inlays may need a very large filling. Or, they may have a worn or big filling that requires replacement. Big fillings are more vulnerable to future damage. And the bigger the cavity or hole in the tooth caused by decay, the larger the filling required to repair the damaged area.

Onlays may be recommended instead of inlays for those patients with more extensive damage to their teeth. Patients whose teeth are repaired with inlays have damage that is limited to the tooth’s chewing surface. For those patients who need onlays, that damage affects the teeth’ chewing surfaces and affects at least one of the points, cusps, or tips of the tooth.

Like other restorations, both inlays and onlays can be made from various dental materials – including ceramics and composite resins, a mix of plastic and filler such as finely ground glass-like particles. Dental ceramics and composites may be attractive for patients concerned about the aesthetics of their teeth and for those teeth in highly visible areas. We are happy to discuss the many options with you. Once the restoration has been made, we’ll secure it to the prepared (cleaned and shaped) tooth. With consistent, good oral hygiene at home and at our office, treated teeth can last a lifetime.

To find out more, call (858) 674-5954. Complete Health Dentistry SoCal welcomes your questions and looks forward to meeting you!