Dental inlays and onlays are a medium between dental crowns and fillings. They are implicated on teeth at the back of the mouth that has suffered a moderate level of decay. Not only this, but inlays and onlays can also be placed on teeth that have undergone some fracturing; more serious damage will probably be resolved with a dental crown.
The two main types of inlays and onlays are made from resin or porcelain. It is also not uncommon to see gold versions. However, the inlays and onlays are often more appealing as porcelain and resin as they can be coloured to look natural. This often makes dental inlays and onlays a popular choice for those wishing to replace unattractive fillings that are made from metal.
Dental inlays and onlays can potentially last for decades, however, it depends entirely on a number of factors. A key influence on how long they exist is the material that the inlay or onlay is composed of. Also, the actual teeth that the product is applied to can be a big determining factor in how long they last for.
Other factors that can affect how much a dental inlay and/or onlay will endure are very dependent on the patient's actions after the filling-like product has been fixed. These influences are how forceful chewing is as well as choice of food, the level of care that is taken by the patient for the inlays or onlays as well as the oral hygiene routine of the patient. It is also important that the dentist is visited regularly to make sure that the inlays and onlays are intact.
In general, the process of fixing inlays or onlays onto the teeth requires at least two dental appointments. This is because the inlays and onlays must be moulded perfectly to the size and shaped of the individual teeth that require the product.
At the first appointment, your dentist will extract the damaged part of the tooth. Then the part of the tooth that is remaining will be carefully shaped to ensure that the inlay or onlay will be able to stick. This shaped tooth provides the model for an impression to be made. A gum will be put inside your mouth so the dentist can make a mould of the tooth shape as well as your bite. This mould is an exact replica of your mouth so the inlays and onlays can be perfectly constructed in the laboratory.
Your following appointment will involve the actual application of the inlay or only onto the necessary teeth. The inlay or onlay is carefully positioned so it matches the exact shape of the tooth. Once in position, your dentist will then work on permanently binding the inlay or onlay onto the tooth. This inlay/onlay is then polished to ensure you leave the clinic with a bright, shiny smile.