Protect Your Smile
Here at Beyond Just Smiles, our practice offers comprehensive care and a variety of dental treatments to ensure all of your individual needs are met.
Our team uses dental fillings, inlays, and onlays to improve the appearance of your teeth and restore your highest quality of oral health. Discover how our exceptional Nashua team can use restorative treatments to get your smile back on track.
The Difference Between Fillings, Inlays, and Onlays
A dental filling is used to repair a tooth that has suffered decay, cracks, or fractures. The affected portion of the tooth is carefully removed and filled with either a silver amalgam or tooth-colored composite filling. This is called a direct restoration because we prepare the tooth, insert the filling material directly into the tooth, and shape it to function and feel like a natural tooth. These are the least expensive dental restorations, as they help to limit the spread of dental infection (caries or “decay”) for average longevity of 10 to 15 years.
In some cases, an inlay or an onlay may be the best option for restoring a tooth with significant damage or decay. Unlike a dental filling, onlays and inlays are indirect restorations, meaning they’re created outside of the mouth from a 3-D scan (or rubber impression) of the prepared tooth or teeth. The restoration is then custom-crafted on a model in a laboratory to restore the contours and bite relationship of the patient’s teeth. Once completed, we will make any final adjustments in the patient’s mouth and cement the restoration into place.
Inlays are cast fillings that replace a part of the tooth, generally restricted to the area between the cusps or right down the middle of the biting surface. They are generally used because the contours of the proximal surfaces of the tooth cannot be adequately or correctly restored with a direct filling.
An onlay is an “overlay” restoration that helps to support one or more weakened cusps. The onlay is basically a “short” crown. Both of them restore the biting surface.
Inlays and onlays are custom-made from a gold alloy or from a tooth-colored acrylic-based composite or porcelain material to look and function just like your natural teeth.
When It’s Time to Seek Treatment
If left untreated, a damaged or decayed tooth can cause further harm to your smile and overall well-being. Your dentist will recommend a filling, inlay, onlay, or a full-coverage crown depending on the condition of your tooth and the amount of remaining healthy tooth structure. These restorative treatments can be used to treat a variety of issues, such as:
- Cracked, chipped, or broken teeth
- Closing spaces between teeth
- Decayed teeth
- Worn-down teeth
- Protect a tooth following root canal therapy
- When damage isn’t severe enough to require a crown
- Cosmetic enhancement
What to Expect During the Process
During your initial consultation, a member of our team will evaluate your tooth to determine the severity of the damage. This will help us determine if a dental filling is sufficient, or if an inlay or an onlay is the most effective treatment for you.
Placing Your Dental Filling
If a regular filling is required, we will match the color of the filling material to your natural teeth to ensure a seamless-looking smile. He’ll carefully remove the infected and decayed areas around your tooth and restore it with a filling made from composite resin. Once the resin hardens, your tooth will feel comfortable and look completely natural.
Receiving an Inlay/Onlay
If an inlay or an onlay is the best solution for you, we can continue to the next step right away. We will take digital impressions of the affected tooth and send this information to a dental lab to create your customized restoration.
Once your new restoration is ready, you’ll return to our Nashua office so we can fit your inlay or onlay. We’ll start by numbing the tooth and surrounding areas to ensure you won’t feel a thing. Your dentist will first prepare and clean the tooth, and then bond the restoration to the tooth and smooth out its surfaces.