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Animation of Inlay and Onlay on a tooth to show the difference used by Tigard Dentist at Lisa Gitelson, DMD.Even with good oral hygiene practices, most people experience tooth decay at some point in their lives. Minor to moderate instances of decay usually requires a filling. A tooth with major structural damage may warrant the use of a dental crown. However, there is also a third restoration option, indirect fillings. An indirect filling, also known as an inlay or onlay, is perfect for patients who want a conservative alternative to a full dental crown. At Lisa Gitelson, DMD we will help you decide which option is best for you.

The Difference Between an Inlay and Onlay

An inlay is bonded within the bite surface of a molar or premolar. An onlay can be used to treat larger areas of decay. Unlike inlays, an onlay restoration can extend beyond one or more of the occlusal cusps. Most onlays are made from ceramic compounds like porcelain. On top of its durability, porcelain possesses the same light-scattering properties of natural enamel. It can also be matched to the shade of your tooth, making it ideal for patients concerned with esthetics.

Onlays can also be fabricated using composite resin or gold. Composite resin is a putty-like material with similar durability to porcelain, but inferior esthetics. Gold is one of the most durable options, but for obvious reasons, usually reserved for teeth that are not immediately visible.

Onlay Procedure

The onlay procedure is typically broken up into two appointments: one to prepare the tooth and one to place the restoration. The only difference between the inlay and onlay procedure is the restoration itself. The same basic concept is true for both procedures. During the onlay procedure, Dr. Lisa Gitelson will remove the decayed tooth material and clean out the cavity. We then capture the new shape of the tooth with an impression.

The impression is sent to our dental laboratory, where our technicians will use it to fabricate your onlay. The fabrication process usually takes several weeks. In the meantime, we may give you a temporary filling to protect the tooth from further decay. Once your final onlay is ready, we can schedule your second appointment. During this appointment, we will remove the temporary filling and bond the permanent onlay directly to the enamel.

Benefits of Onlays

Onlays and inlays are a conservative alternative to dental crowns, which require a complete reshaping of healthy enamel to accommodate the tooth-shaped cap. Onlays are much more precise and only address the areas of the tooth that need restoring. This approach allows us to preserve more of the natural enamel, which is better for the tooth in the long run. This approach can strengthen a week tooth as well!

We may recommend an onlay to replace old, worn amalgam restoration. The onlay will blend seamlessly with the enamel and neighboring teeth, improving the esthetics of your smile. Its precise fit makes an onlay the ideal restoration for the hard-to-reach areas in between your teeth. It can even protect the tooth from further bacterial decay.

Schedule an Appointment

If you have a decayed or damaged tooth, you may benefit from an onlay! To learn more, call (503) 985-8945 and schedule your appointment now.

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Lisa Gitelson, DMD
14300 SW Pacific Hwy
Tigard, OR 97224
(503) 985-8945
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Lisa Gitelson, DMD | | (503) 985-8945
14300 SW Pacific Hwy, Tigard, OR 97224



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