Inlays and Onlays

Inlays and Onlays

smile-manDental procedures come in all shapes and sizes. Dentists are proficient in a range of techniques, from your classic root canal to a wisdom tooth extraction to a dental implant. For example, take inlays and onlays. They are two types of highly related and yet crucially different procedures used to treat very different oral health issues. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that these types of procedures are absolutely key to restorative dentistry, as no dental practice can be considered complete with some form of both.

Luckily, Dr. Mark Samuels offers both inlays and onlays to his dental patients. To learn more about the procedures, or to set up a diagnostic appointment, contact Dr. Samuels by calling (203) 742-1027.

What are inlays?

As the name explains, inlays are what dentists call any restorative procedure that involves putting something inside of a tooth. Now this may sound strange, but inlays are more common than you might imagine. In fact, most dentists would even consider a type of inlay one of the most common restorative procedures performed by dentist.

dental-inlayWhat is this strange technique? Dental fillings, of course. Fillings are the definition of an inlay because they involve filling cavities in a tooth with some sort of protective material. Fillings come in a variety of shapes and sizes, from the age-old amalgam to composite mixtures to precious metals. However–and this is where it can get confusing–not all cavity fillings are a type of inlay. This is because there’s a second part to the definition of an inlay: it’s something that is fashioned outside of the mouth and then attached to the inside of a tooth. Typically, inlays are reserved for more serious cases of tooth decay and larger cavities.

An example may help to explain the difference. If you’ve ever gotten a filling recently, it’s quite likely that you had a composite filling. This probably involved your dentist carefully cleaning out the cavity before injecting a thick liquid substance that hardened as it dried. This type of filling is quite common, and it is what dentists consider a “direct filling.”

Now, consider the dental amalgam, the silvery metallic mixture found more commonly in the mouths of our older patients. Dental amalgams are made from an alloy of mercury, silver, tin, and copper. As a result, it’s impossible for your dentist to pour it in liquid form into a cavity. Instead, an imprint of the cavity must first be taken. An amalgam is constructed based on this imprint, and the finished result is attached to the tooth. Thus, an amalgam is a type of inlay.

What are onlays?

dental-onlayBy contrast, an onlay is a restorative procedure that involves fastening something to the outside of a tooth. As you can imagine, this is typically reserved for cases in which damage has been done to the exterior of a tooth. Chips, cracks, or other irregularities are common examples. Such problems may be impossible to fix from the inside and may need to be shielded and protected.

Dental crowns, then, are typically what dentists use for onlays. A dental crown is typically constructed from a harder composite material based on impressions taken of the tooth (start to see the parallels?). Once the optimal fit is reached, the crown is carefully fitted over and attached to the damaged tooth, thus safely enclosing the vulnerable tooth while still preserving the overall structure of the tooth. They can be dyed to match the shade of the rest of the teeth exactly, making them a common cosmetic procedure as well.

Dental crowns are an optimal restorative technique as well because they are considered a minimally invasive procedure. For example, one way that a damaged tooth can be dealt with is via extraction. However, because tooth extractions come with many side effects that are better to avoid, they tend to be every dentist’s last resort. Dental crowns give practitioners a chance to “save” the tooth by protecting it, thus being the healthier overall choice.

Of course, Dr. Mark Samuels performs both inlays and onlays for his Lighthouse Dental patients. As the best dentist in Stratford, CT, Dr. Samuels is always happy to discuss the procedure with potential patients. All you need to do is get in contact with our office to set up a consultation appointment! You can reach us by phone at (203) 742-1027. Simply contact us to start your restorative journey today!

Office Hours

Monday: 7:00 am - 7:00 pm
Tuesday: 7:00 am - 7:00 pm
Wednesday: 7:00 am - 7:00 pm
Thursday: 7:00 am - 7:00 pm
Friday: 7:00 am - 4:00 pm
Saturday: 8:00 am - 1:00 pm

Our Location

Lighthouse Dental Care

88 Ryders Lane
Stratford, CT 06614

Phone: (203) 742-1027
Fax: (203) 380-8390