Gone are the days when patients with considerable tooth damage had to choose between a filling or a dental crown which both compromised the tooth structure in one way or another. Today, advanced dental treatments have emerged to ensure that patients who have moderate tooth damage can still restore their smile and preserve their tooth structure.

During your time at the dental hygienist school Toronto, you will cover interesting treatments used in restorative dentistry known as inlays and onlays. These two treatments are simply designed to repair a damaged tooth without compromising the existing healthy tooth structure so the patient can maintain chewing force and overall strong, healthy teeth. Some dental treatments like fillings can end up weakening the teeth in the long run. That’s why inlays and onlays have become top favorites for most patients today dealing with a damaged tooth.

What are the benefits of inlays and onlays?

The benefits of these restorative dental treatments go far beyond allowing the patient to maintain their healthy tooth structure. You must explain to the patients the other benefits of this treatment. For instance, inlays and onlays are both extremely durable so they can last for many years once put in place and maintained in the right way. Additionally, they can be designed to mimic the patient’s tooth color. Therefore, when the treatment is complete, the tooth blends seamlessly with the existing teeth giving a patient a natural looking smile.

In fact, this procedure is often recommended for patients who are self-conscious or worried about the smile makeover not appearing natural. As a dental hygienist, you need to understand that for most of your patients, the aesthetics and appearance matters just as much as the health and functionality of their teeth. Therefore, when doing any dental work, consider recommending treatments such as inlays that will give the patient a more natural look.

Inlays versus onlays

Both inlays and onlays are usually made from the same materials. Commonly used materials include colored porcelain, gold, and composite resin. However, inlays are used when there’s less extensive tooth damage than onlays. When the cusp (that part of the tooth that slightly protrudes) is completely damaged and needs to be replaced, an onlay can be used. Inlays can repair the damage between the cusps of the teeth. They are often considered as a great alternative to fillings whereas onlays are commonly used instead of dental crowns.

Installing inlays and onlays

Most dental colleges in Toronto will also cover the training of installing inlays and onlays. Inlays and onlays can be installed directly or indirectly. With direct installation, the inlays and onlays are created inhouse so the patient can have the treatment completed in a single visit. Indirect installation is the most common where the patient comes for the first appointment where the teeth are cleaned and any damaged areas removed then an impression of the tooth is sent to the lab. A temporary inlay or onlay is placed over the tooth on that first appointment to prevent damage. During a second visit a permanent inlay or onlay is then attached into place.