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What exactly are inlays and onlays?

by admin on May 26, 2009

What exactly are inlays and onlays?

Inlays and onlays are an old fashioned, traditional method of restoring teeth that are not commonly used by dentists these days. They are known as indirect fillings. When the biting surface of the tooth is damaged and regular fillings are not adequate, inlays and onlays are used to fill crevices or repair extensive damage.

The difference between dental fillings and inlays and onlays is that dental fillings are directly done on the spot: they are placed in the tooth during your visit to the dentist, on the other hand, inlays and onlays have to be made in a dental laboratory; these are then subsequently fitted and chemically bonded to the damaged tooth by the dentist. Hence the name:Indirect fillings. Sometimes, inlays and onlays are used in place of full dental coverage crowns. As compared to full dental coverage crowns, they are better fitting, last longer, and look better.

The difference between inlays and onlays:

When the material is bonded within the center of the tooth, it is called an inlay. If the damage is more widespread and the new structure covers the whole chewing surface including one or more tooth cusps, the procedure is called an onlay.


The Benefits of using inlays and onlays:

Inlays and onlays are methods of repairing comparatively wide-ranging tooth decay or damage without really needing to replace the entire outer portion of the tooth as one would need to do with a crown. The amount of tooth material required to be removed is less, so inlays and onlays tend to be more conservative and esthetic as compared crowns.

The inlay and onlay procedures strengthen a tooth’s structure as compared to fillings where the structure may be weakened due to removing too much tooth material. Inlays and onlays are also likely to last longer than a regular filling, because the inlay or onlay material is custom made and bonded or fused to the tooth.

They offer a superior fit as compared to crowns, as the procedure tends to preserve as much of the healthy tooth as possible. This also safeguards the structure of the basic tooth and does not weaken it further and this in turn offers strength and stability to the teeth. An onlay can actually protect the weak areas of the tooth as the procedure does not require the complete reshaping of the tooth.

Esthetically, tooth color is retained offering better visual appeal, because inlays or onlays will not discolor as resin fillings usually do. Due to the fact that inlays and onlays are custom made and they fit better and do not shrink or change size during the curing process, this makes it a lot easier for you to clean or brush your teeth. Inlays seal the tooth better as compared to regular fillings and thus they keep out bacteria ensuring that there is no further decay taking place inside the tooth, under the filling.

The Procedure used for Inlays and Onlays:

Generally speaking an inlay or onlay procedure usually requires two or three dental visits to complete it.
In the first visit, the dentist makes a mold of your teeth as they exist in your mouth. This gives the dentist a basic structure to work from. A temporary sealant is placed on your damaged tooth. The mold is then sent to the laboratory where the technician will proceed to make an inlay or outlay as advised by the dentist, depending upon the extent of damage. The material to be used for the inlay or onlay is also selected in this visit.

The material selected to make the inlay or onlay depends on many factors such as the location and visibility of the tooth- if the tooth is situated at the back of the mouth and will not be visible when you smile or speak, then gold may be recommended as the material to be used, as this is long lasting, offers better protection and is smooth causing less abrasion to the opposing tooth. Whereas if you require an inlay or onlay for your front teeth, or teeth that will be exposed when you smile or speak then porcelain will be recommended as the best material as this can be made and colored to match your existing healthy teeth and will thus blend in better. If are a person who habitually grinds your teeth or have a very strong bite or chew heavily, or if you have malocclusion where your jaw is misaligned,then resin could be the best material for you. The dentist will help you make your best choice.

In the second visit, sometimes a temporary inlay or onlay could be fitted, if the final inlay or onlay is not yet ready. The final fitting would require a third visit. If the final inlay or onlay is ready, this will be fitted in the second visit. The temporary sealant will first be removed. When fitting the inlay or onlay the dentist will ensure that the restoration fits perfectly with all adjacent teeth, that there are no problems with malocclusion that might affect the fit of the inlay or onlay. When the inlay or onlay is fitted, it will be bonded to the tooth and then polished.

What lies in store for Inlays and Onlays?

Inlays and onlays as a restorative procedure are here to stay. They offer a fantastic amalgamation of excellent functional longevity and esthetic naturalness in addition to the fact that the materials used for making inlays and onlays continue to evolve, improve and become better, the procedure is not likely be replaced by another.

Factors to consider when selecting a Dentist for an Inlay or Onlay:

Not many dentists use the inlay and onlay procedure as there is no formal training for this procedure that any dental school offers. Dentists can get trained in the inlay and onlay procedure while working in close collaboration with the laboratory technicians. Sometimes the laboratory technician can be a part of your consultation or visit to the dentist offering his advice if the doctor has the technology of a video conference where the image of your teeth can be seen in real time by the dentist and the technician. Often the technician may be part of the fitting procedure, assisting the dentist, using the same conferencing technology.

What does the Inlays and Onlay procedure cost?

The expenses of the inlay and onlay procedure vary and depend upon many factors such as :

  • The fees of the dentist you have chosen. Renowned and experienced dentists may be more expensive as compared to a dentist who is just starting out and setting up his / her practice.
  • The location of the teeth that require the inlay or outlay in your mouth: For example, teeth in the front of the mouth are easier to prepare and work on as compared to molars or teeth located at the back of the mouth.
  • The size of the inlay or onlay required- smaller inlays or outlays are cheaper as compared to bigger ones.
  • The material that you select for the inlay or outlay- it goes without saying that a gold inlay or onlay will be more expensive as compared to porcelain. Conversely, porcelain inlays or onlays might require more craftsmanship and this might cost more in terms of labor than material.
  • Another factor influencing the price of inlays or onlays is your geographic location. If you live in a place where this technology is not available, you may need to travel to a place where it is. Or there may not be a local technician to fabricate the inlay or onlay, in which case it will need to be sent to a place where it can be fabricated and this will add to the cost.

Does Dental Insurance cover Inlays and Onlays?

The insurance policies and procedures differ from company to company. Inlays and onlays could be classified under ‘basic’ or ‘major’ service by the insurance company.

In the basic category the usual procedures such as dental cleanings, dental fillings, and routine services may be covered. Some insurance companies might have a pre-set limit for these services. You will have to verify from the company what these are. In case the dental insurance company that you have selected classifies the inlays and onlays procedure in the major category as they do for full coverage crowns, then it is possible that you will be compensated at the 50 percent coverage rate.

Again as this is variable, it is best that you verify with the insurance company that you have selected. In event you wish to be really sure how much compensation you will receive, you could ask your dentist for an estimate of the cost, and submitting this to the company, you can ask at what rate you will be compensated. That way you will have a clear idea of the cost and reimbursement that you will have to prepare for.

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Importance of Dental Flossing

by admin on September 25, 2008

Is flossing necessary for my oral health?

It is surprising that only 12% of the population of a well developed country such as United States of America floss their teeth daily. Even more surprising is the fact that hardly anyone is aware of the necessity of flossing. Some are rather incorrectly inclined to believe that regular brushing is enough to keep their tooth healthy. Let me try enlightening you on the necessity of flossing for good oral hygiene.

A study was carried out 51 twins on the importance of flossing which published in American journal of periodontology (aug 2006). One of them was instructed to just brush and the other to brush and floss. Their dental health was examined before and after the study.The results showed the group that flossed had 38% fewer bleeding gum sites than before the intervention and overall gum bleeding improved by an average of 42%”

Some Flossing facts

  • Brushing sans flossing is comparable to cleaning only 65% of your body leaving the 35% dirty which simply means you are not completely clean.
  • Flossing removes the tiny trapped food particles and also the plaque trapped between the teeth which a tooth brush cannot reach.
  • It also prevents the formation of calculus or tartar which if formed can only be removed by your dentist.
  • Recent studies have indicated flossing reduces the risk of heart attack. Hard to believe? Well, this is attributed to the close relation between gum disease and heart attack. The gum disease is prevented by regular flossing which decreases the risk for heart attack.

What are the harmful effects of NOT Flossing?

If the advantages of flossing are not good enough to encourage you to start flossing, may be knowing the harms of not flossing might be more yielding.

  • The main objective of flossing is to remove the plaque lodged between the teeth. When this fails to occur, the plaque hardens in to tartar which can only be removed by an oral hygienist or dentist.
  • The bacteria present in the tartar (calculus) produce acids which damage your gums and cause swelling:- a condition known as gingivitis.
  • Untreated gingivitis leads to periodontal disease which eventually causes bone resoption and tooth loss.

So, do pickup this good habit which will improve your oral health for the good. Happy Flossing.

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