Dr. Hughes speaks about the benefits of inlays and onlays. These restorations are recommended if a filling is not enough, but a crown would be excessive. The doctor also speaks about how newer scanning technologies allow him to create more effective inlays and onlays.
An inlay or an onlay is a restorative procedure. In other words, a type of filling in a way that fills a portion of the tooth and can either be made with a gold or ceramic product. And so essentially, if you have a big cavity or replacing a filling, the patient does not desire a crown or there’s not enough tooth left . . . more than enough tooth left to place the crown on the tooth, in other words, it excludes the crown, an inlay or onlay is a perfect option for restoring that tooth. It’s very conservative. You call it biomimicking. That’s a new term now. That’s essentially what we’re doing.
Now, an inlay fits inside the tooth and an onlay covers, pretty much, the biting surface of the tooth, but does fit inside the tooth. They’re cemented or bonded on, and they work very, very well. Inlays and onlays are an extremely conservative treatment. I have them in my mouth and I think it’s a nice option for someone in lieu of a safe old crown cover, in some cases. It’s just a very aesthetic and, actually, in many respects is a more desirable way to restore a tooth.
We have more accuracy now with the impression materials and with scanning technology to render these products. And we have more control over the bite and the contact between the teeth. It’s a very nice procedure and also, in many respects, you conserve the gum tissue around the tooth, because when you make a crown, you’re encroaching on that tissue. So sometimes, you don’t have the most healthy situation with a crown whereas with an inlay or onlay, it’s the best of both worlds. You’re restoring what’s been damaged and you also achieve a more natural and aesthetic appearance.