Inlays & Onlay Fillings

Inlays & Onlays

When the back teeth have been damaged by decay or chipping, we will often use dental inlays & onlays for the restoration. Many of our patients at Gateway Dental Care like these gold or porcelain fillings because they offer certain advantages over metal fillings.


Pleasanton Inlays & OnlaysThe difference between inlays & onlays lies in the amount of the tooth’s surface to be repaired. The upper surface of the tooth consists of the higher areas at the edges and the lower area in the center. When a cavity occurs, it often damages only the center part of the tooth. In cases like this, the porcelain only needs to cover that area, and it is not necessary to reconstruct the higher points. These constructions are called inlays.


In a more extensive cavity or a chipped tooth, the higher points or cusps may also be damaged. In this case, the porcelain insert is larger and must include a reconstruction of one or more cusps. These constructions are called onlays.

The procedure typically involves two visits to Gateway Dental Care and is much the same for inlays & onlays. On the first visit, the damaged area is removed and an impression is made of the remaining space. A temporary filling is inserted to prevent discomfort in the time between visits.

Inlays and onlays are prepared out of the mouth and exactly conform to the dimensions of the space to be filled. On the second visit, the temporary filling is removed and the porcelain piece is inserted. Since it is cemented in place, it has much tighter adhesion to the tooth than a metal filling which is only pressed into the cavity.

Advantages Of Porcelain Fillings

The advantage of porcelain over a metal filling lies in the fact that it is closer to the natural material of the tooth. When metal gets warmer or cooler, it expands or contracts at a different rate from the tooth material. Since it is not cemented in place, this means that it presses outward on the tooth when warmed and pulls away from it when cooled. This is the reason metal fillings often cause pain when hot or cold beverages are consumed. It is also one of the causes of further decay, since the movement opens a gap between the filling and the tooth that can become a growing area for bacteria.

The porcelain of inlays and onlays expands and contracts at the same rate as the surrounding tooth, so warming or cooling will not cause pain. It is cemented in place, so no gap forms and further decay is prevented. For inlays & onlays in Pleasanton, set up an appointment at Gateway Dental Care today.

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