What are Dental Inlays and Onlays?

Dental Inlays and Onlays

Dental inlays and onlays are part of the leading edge in dentistry and they have over 20 years of research behind them. You can now forget about those old amalgam or composite fillings that some dentists still use.

Part of the reason that the onlay/inlay process is not utilized as much as it should is due to the cost. Insurance companies are unwilling to pay for this service, citing it as being cosmetic.

One consideration when looking at the inlay process is that the older amalgam and composite materials last a short period of time, while the inlay/onlay process lasts 15+ years.

The inlay/onlay process involves the use of a Cerec 3D CAD/CAM (computer aided design/computer aided manufacturing) technology, which is composed of camera, computer and milling machine technology all in one instrument. The optical image is transferred to another computer screen, where the dentist designs the restoration process using the CAD technology.

The CAM creates the restoration automatically. With the patient waiting for the restoration to be completed, the dentist then bonds the newly restored surface to the patient’s existing tooth. This entire process is usually completed in about an hour.

Many patients are choosing the CAD/Cam treatment plan because of the controversy over amalgam filling material containing mercury. It is suspected in some cases that the mercury is causing chronic illnesses, autoimmune disorders, oral lesions, birth defects, mental disorders and neurodegenerative diseases.

It is also suspected that the composite material used in filling a tooth is made of a resin composite, which now has patients concerned about the risks associated with this type of plastic, known as Bisphenol A.

The inlay/onlay process used today makes it impossible to see the difference between the natural teeth and the inlay/onlay restoration. Other benefits to the inlay/only process is the durability of the tooth, which is oftentimes upward of 100% strength of the tooth, high-quality esthetics, the inlays/onlays are composed of metal-free material that acts just like natural tooth enamel and the process offers color matching, so it’s easy to blend the inlays/onlays with the natural teeth.