Restore your smile with precision: our dental inlays and onlays offer a perfect blend of durability and aesthetics.

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At Smile Design Dentistry in Plymouth, MN, we specialize in restoring the beauty and function of your smile with precision-crafted dental inlays and onlays. Our expert team is dedicated to providing cosmetic solutions that look natural and preserve more of your tooth structure, ensuring a healthier, stronger smile. Discover how our tailored restorative treatments can transform your dental health and confidence.


What are Dental Inlays and Onlays?

Inlays and onlays are specialized restorative dental treatments used to repair rear teeth with mild to moderate decay, cracks, or fractures that are not sufficiently damaged to require a crown. Here’s a brief overview:


Dental Inlays are used to fill the space between the cusps, or rounded edges, at the center of the tooth’s surface. They are an ideal alternative to fillings because they are individually crafted in a dental lab and then precisely fitted and bonded to the damaged area of the tooth.


Dental Onlays: Onlays cover one or more cusps or the entire biting surface of the tooth. They are sometimes called “partial crowns” because they are used when the damage is more extensive and requires more than an inlay but not enough to warrant a full crown.

Both inlays and onlays are made from durable, tooth-colored materials such as porcelain or composite resin, which blend seamlessly with your natural teeth for functional and aesthetic restoration. These treatments restore teeth and strengthen them, increasing their life span and minimizing the need for more extensive dental procedures in the future.


How are Dental Inlays and Onlays Different from Fillings?

Traditional fillings are molded into the cavity and then hardened. Inlays and onlays are produced in a lab based on impressions. This allows us to deliver an exact fit, blending the restoration with the original structure. Inlays and onlays often last longer and have better resistance toward cavities.


The Procedure for Getting Dental Inlays and Onlays

At Smile Design, the process requires two visits. During the first visit, we will remove the damaged piece of the tooth and take an impression for custom molds. A temporary filling may be placed to protect the tooth while the permanent solution is being made. We remove the temporary filling at the second appointment and bond the new onlay or inlay to the tooth. 


Advantages of Dental Inlays and Onlays

Dental inlays and onlays offer several advantages over traditional fillings and crowns, making them a preferred choice for restoring teeth that have suffered from decay or damage. Our team loves the conservative approach of this treatment as it requires little to no alteration to the tooth.


Preservation of Tooth Structure

Inlays and Onlays do not comprise the natural tooth structure. Several other procedures, like crowns, require the removal of the enamel. Inlays and onlays sometimes require no alteration, maintaining strength and structure.


Aesthetic Appeal

Since inlays and onlays can be made from materials that mimic the color and appearance of natural teeth, such as porcelain and composite resin, they provide a more discreet and aesthetic treatment option. They blend seamlessly with the tooth, enhancing the overall appearance of your smile.


Longevity and Durability

Made from solid and durable materials like porcelain, composite resin, or sometimes gold, inlays and onlays can withstand chewing forces well, making them durable and long-lasting. They can significantly strengthen a weakened tooth. Inlays and onlays can increase the strength of a tooth by up to 75%, in contrast to traditional metal fillings, which can reduce tooth strength. With proper care, inlays and onlays are extremely stable and long-lasting restorative solutions, often lasting up to 30 years.


Superior Fit

Inlays and onlays are custom-made to fit precisely within or over the tooth. This exact fit helps to optimize the restoration of the tooth’s original structure and function while preventing further decay or deterioration at the margins.


Improved Oral Hygiene

The precise fit and custom fabrication of inlays and onlays make them easier to clean and less likely to harbor bacteria, thus reducing the chance of further decay.


Candidates for Dental Inlays and Onlays

Candidacy for dental inlays and onlays involves several factors that determine whether these treatments are the most appropriate choice for restoring a tooth. Here’s what generally makes someone a good candidate:


Extent of Decay or Damage

Inlays and onlays are ideal for teeth with too much damage or decay for a filling to repair effectively but not enough to require a full crown. This usually includes cases where the damage does not affect the tooth’s cusp for inlays or one or more cusps but does not encompass the entire tooth structure for onlays.


Intact Tooth Structure

There should be enough healthy teeth to support the inlay or onlay. These restorations rely on a substantial amount of the natural tooth structure for bonding, so extensive structural loss might require a crown instead.


Location and Function of the Tooth

Teeth that undergo moderate pressure from chewing, particularly the premolars and molars, are excellent candidates for inlays and onlays. These restorations can withstand chewing forces and provide additional strength.


Desire for a Long-lasting Solution

Patients looking for a durable restoration that blends aesthetically with the rest of their teeth may prefer inlays and onlays over amalgam fillings or other restorations.

Cosmetic Dentistry

At Smile Design, we excel in the art and science of cosmetic dentistry, offering bespoke treatments designed to align with each patient’s unique aesthetic goals. Experience the pinnacle of personalized care as we refine and enhance your smile with unparalleled precision and professionalism.

Good Oral Health

While ideal candidates for inlays and onlays have good oral health, they may have specific areas of decay. Patients must be committed to maintaining excellent oral hygiene practices, which significantly extend the lifespan of any dental restoration, including inlays and onlays. 


Previous Dental Work

Patients with old or failing fillings might be candidates for inlays or onlays, which offer a more durable and aesthetically pleasing replacement.

Dentists typically evaluate these factors through visual examination, dental X-rays, and discussing the patient’s dental history and preferences. If you’re considering inlays or onlays, a consultation with your dentist will help determine if they are the right option for your needs.


Aftercare and Maintenance of Dental Inlays and Onlays

Taking care of your dental inlays and onlays is crucial for ensuring their longevity and the overall health of your teeth. Here are some practical care tips:

  1. Regular Brushing and Flossing: Just like natural teeth, inlays and onlays should be brushed twice and flossed daily. This helps prevent plaque buildup, which can lead to decay around the restoration margins.
  2. Use Non-Abrasive Toothpaste: It’s advisable to use a non-abrasive toothpaste to avoid scratching the surface of porcelain or composite inlays and onlays.
  3. Avoid Hard Foods: While inlays and onlays are durable, biting on very hard foods (like ice, hard candies, or nuts) can potentially damage them. It’s best to be cautious and avoid using your restored teeth as tools to crack nuts or open packaging.
  4. Wear a Night Guard if Necessary: If you grind or clench your teeth at night, consider getting a Night Guard to protect your inlays, onlays, and natural teeth from excessive wear.
  5. Regular Dental Check-Ups: Visit your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and check-ups. Your dentist can check the condition of your inlays and onlays, ensure they are still adequately bonded, and look for any signs of decay or wear.
  6. Avoid Staining Substances: If you have porcelain inlays or onlays, be mindful of the consumption of substances that can stain, like coffee, tea, and red wine, to keep your restorations looking their best.
  7. Use an Antiseptic Mouthwash: Incorporating an antiseptic mouthwash into your daily routine can help reduce bacteria in your mouth, thus protecting the areas around your restorations.


By following these care practices, you can help ensure that your dental inlays and onlays remain in excellent condition and serve their purpose for many years.


Dental Inlays and Onlays | Plymouth, MN

Dental inlays and onlays have been a wonderful innovation. They are a durable, sustainable, and conservative approach. If you identify with the problems these restorations addressed or have questions, schedule an appointment to begin your journey to the perfect smile.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


How long do dental inlays and onlays last?

Inlays and onlays are known for their durability and longevity, with many individuals enjoying their benefits for ten years or more. However, proper oral hygiene and dental check-ups are essential for maximizing their lifespan.


Does dental insurance cover dental inlays and onlays?

While some plans may cover some of the cost, others may consider them elective procedures. Check with your insurance provider for details.


Can dental inlays and onlays replace metal fillings?

Your dentist can determine if replacing fillings with inlays or onlays is suitable.

Before & After Photos

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