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Inlays & Onlays


Woman smiling with perfect teethIf you are having a lot of pain in one of your back molars, what do you do? Do you wait patiently and hope the pain goes away? Do you ignore it? Or are you afraid to find out what is wrong with your tooth, because you might have to get it removed? If you're worried about your painful molar, we may be able to fix it with an inlay or an onlay. Not sure what those are? We'll be glad to explain. Give Zhou Dental Care a chance to tell you about inlays and onlays.

Why You Need Inlays and Onlays


We can use both inlays and onlays to cover up the mess left by a cavity in one of your molars. Inlays and onlays can't be used for every cavity, however. Most cavities in your teeth happen near the gumline, or along the sides of a tooth, which means we can fix them with traditional fillings. However, your back molars are very special. They cut and grind most of the food you eat. For that reason, the biting surfaces of molars are very important. If you get a cavity on the biting surface of your molar, and we catch it quickly, we can repair it without trouble. But if your cavity has created a large hole on the biting surface of your molar, we'll need to use something else. That's where inlays and onlays come in.

Inlays and onlays are porcelain or composite prosthetic pieces. We cement these pieces onto the biting surface of one of your molars after we have fixed the cavity. When you get a cavity, the bacteria that cause cavities eats away at your tooth enamel and down to the tooth pulp, which is when you might start to feel pain in your tooth. We'll need to drill out the cavity and prepare to fill the tooth before we can use an inlay or onlay.

How Do Inlays and Onlays Work?


Usually when you get a cavity, we drill out the cavity itself. Then we use composite fillings to fill the hole left by the cavity. The filling seals the tooth and fills the hole the cavity left behind. On a standard tooth, that would be all the work we needed to do. However, the biting surface of your molar needs something a little tougher.

We prefer to make inlays and onlays out of porcelain. It is a strong material that looks like your natural tooth so it is virtually undetectable. After we fill the hole left by the cavity, we use an inlay or onlay to make your molar stronger. We use inlays if your cavity was on the biting surface of your molar, but not on the cusp. If your cavity involves the cusp of your tooth, we use an onlay, because it will replace the cusp of your tooth used for tearing and crushing food.

We can make an inlay or an onlay in our office, so that it looks like your original biting surface. We create the prosthetic replacement, and then cement the inlay or onlay onto your tooth's biting surface. You're then ready to resume your normal molar chewing. Because molars do so much of the heavy lifting with food digestion, we want them to work perfectly.

If you have questions about inlays and onlays, why not let us help? Give Zhou Dental Care a call at 503-282-3884 and we can explain your options.

503-282-3884
2824 NE Wasco St. #200, Portland, OR.

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