Cavities are an issue that millions of people, from children to seniors, face. They are small pits that form in the surfaces of your teeth as a result of tooth decay, which occurs when the acids produced by plaque and bacteria erode your teeth. This erosion leads to weak spots. Cavities need treatment. Without it, they can severely compromise the structure of the affected tooth as well as your oral health. Typically, fillings are used to treat cavities. However, fillings are not always the best solution. At Excellent Dental Specialists, we can provide an alternative with inlays and onlays.
What is a Filling?
When a cavity forms, a filling
is commonly used to treat it. Fillings, which are made of either amalgam or composite resin, fill in the pit that a cavity leaves behind. Amalgam fillings are the traditional material, made up of a mixture of metals suspended in mercury. Composite resin fillings provide metal and mercury free option. These fillings are made up of a mixture of plastic, fine glass, and other materials. While both of these fillings are effective in many cases, there are certain situations in which they can compromise your tooth. On the surfaces of your molars, amalgam fillings may be driven deeper into the tooth, causing it to fracture. Composite fillings, on the other hand, may not be able to stand up to the bite forces and can break under pressure.
Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and onlays are what are known as indirect fillings. This means that they are created outside of the tooth, rather than being cured inside of the cavity. They are both designed to provide strength to a tooth affected by a cavity, where a filling might otherwise compromise it. They are also a more conservative treatment than a crown
. An inlay is often used when there is only partial damage to the tooth, or only one cusp of a molar is affected by a cavity. An onlay, also sometimes called a partial crown, is used for larger damage, when two or more cusps on the chewing surface of a molar are affected.
Getting Inlays and Onlays
The process for getting inlays and onlays requires two separate appointments. During the first appointment, we clean the affected tooth and remove the decay, much like we would do in preparation for an amalgam or composite filling. Next, an impression is taken of the tooth. This impression is sent to a dental lab, where it is used to create a filling for your tooth that will fit perfectly inside the cavity. The materials for inlays and onlays vary, although porcelain is often the preferred option for aesthetic reasons.
It can often take up to 2 weeks for your inlay or onlay to be finished and returned. While you wait, a temporary restoration is placed to help protect the tooth from bacteria. Once your indirect filling is ready, you return for a second appointment. At this appointment, we check the inlay or onlay for fit and bite and then bond it into place with special dental cement.
Benefits of Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and onlays provide several significant benefits.
||They restore strength to the affected tooth, as well as your oral health.
||We do not need to remove as much of your natural tooth structure.
||They are created outside of the tooth, so they will not shrink upon placement like a regular filling might as it is being cured.
||Inlays and onlays are more conservative and less expensive than crowns.
Inlays and onlays provide an alternative to traditional fillings that restore your oral health and the strength of teeth affected by cavities. Call Excellent Dental Specialists at (210) 598-8933 for more information and to find out if inlays and onlays are right for you.