Inlays and Onlays

These dental items are sometimes called “indirect fillings” and they are often used as an alternative to dental crowns. These fillings are a less invasive way to repair decay and damage on a given tooth. They strengthen and improve the appearance of the tooth and they can be made from porcelain, resin or gold.

What are Onlays and Inlays?

An “inlay” is what it is called when the filling is bonded in the center of a tooth. An “onlay” is when the damage involves the exterior of the tooth. Sometimes, inlays and onlays are used in place of dental fillings to treat tooth decay. Fillings are molded and secured in the mouth. These indirect fillings are created in a dental lab and then they are fitted and secured to the tooth.

The Benefits of Indirect Fillings

These items tend to fit really well when compared to a crown. They can preserve much of the tooth and are a great choice if your flossing area is intact. They do not change color over time like a resin filling will and they are very effective at healing a tooth and keeping it intact. Other types of fillings can shrink at certain points in the process. Indirect fillings are tailored to fit and the tooth is easy to clean.

Inlays can fill cavities between teeth and are very effective at warding off bacteria. They also do a great job of protecting teeth and don’t require that the tooth be filed down like when a crown is put in.

How Indirect Fillings are Applied

It usually takes two visits to the dentist to complete the process. On the first visit, the dentist will examine and evaluate the tooth. Then they will prepare it and make a mold of the tooth which is shipped to a lab to be created. You will be given a temporary filling to wear until the permanent one is ready.

What Are They Made From?

Choosing the material to make the indirect filling out of is a joint decision. There are pluses and minuses to each choice:

Gold: This is considered the best option if the tooth is in the back. Gold is very durable, but some people don’t like the way they look.
Porcelain: These look very similar to real teeth and are the ones used most often for front teeth.
Resin: These are great for people who grind their teeth or those who have a misalignment.

During the second visit, the temporary is removed and the permanent filling is applied. The dentist will take some time to ensure a proper fit and secure it. The dentist will check your bite to make sure that your alignment hasn’t been affected. Once those examinations are complete, the dentist will bond it to the tooth and give it a nice polish.

Effective and Popular

Every few years, new formulations are devised that are popular and continue to evolve. Each new configuration makes them look more real and natural in the mouth. They are extremely effective at saving a tooth and healing it. The fact that they retain their color and shape over the course of many years has made them a popular option among dentists and patients alike.

Not Everyone Offers Indirect Fillings

The application of both inlays and onlays is currently not taught in dental school. What that means is that relatively few dentists are able to perform this procedure. Those that do will have the technology to send images of your tooth to a lab to determine the optimal design. Sometimes a dental technician will get involved and consult with the dentist during your appointment. It is a very immediate process and dentists who can do it are highly sought after.

The Price of Indirect Fillings

The price is sometimes influenced by the experience of the dentist and the extent of their training. The cost can vary depending on where you live and the size of the filling. Generally, back teeth cost more than front teeth because back teeth are more difficult to treat. The type of material is reflected in the cost as gold is more expensive than resin. The cost usually ranges from $250 to $1,500.

Insurance Coverage

Both types of indirect fillings are placed in the ‘basic’ or ‘major’ service category in most dental insurance plans. Basic includes fillings, cleanings and check-ups. You’ll need to be aware of the yearly limit for basic services and you will likely pay a majority of the fee. If indirect fillings are in the major category, you will pay for about 50%.

If you think an indirect filling can help you with tooth pain or a cracked or corroded tooth, give the Boynton Laser Dental Center a call. We are one of the few centers in the region equipped to administer this process and we can end your tooth pain today!