Inlays and Onlays
Cavities are a common oral health problem, affecting the teeth of millions of Americans of every age. They form as a result of the acids produced by a buildup of plaque and bacteria eroding the enamel. This erosion leads to the formation of small pits or cavities. When cavities form, treatment is needed. Often, this treatment is a filling. In most cases, fillings are quite effective. However, there are certain circumstances in which a filling can compromise a tooth rather than protect it. At Smiles Cosmetic Dentistry by Dr. Shrenna Clifton, we can provide effective treatment for these more difficult cavities with inlays and onlays.
Treating Cavities With Amalgam and Composite Resin
Typically, cavities are treated in one of two ways, amalgam or composite resin. Amalgam has the longest history of cavity treatment, having been in use for over 150 years. The filling is a mixture of metals suspended in mercury. The material is well known for its superior strength. It is also known for its obvious silver color. Along with the color, many patients express concern over the metal and the mercury these fillings contain.
Composite resin is a more recent alternative to traditional amalgam. It is a mixture of fine glass, plastic, and other materials. Its greatest benefit is that it perfectly blends in with the rest of your tooth structure. It also contains no metal or mercury. However, it is not nearly as strong as amalgam and can be subject to wearing down and breaking much faster and easier.
Inlays and Onlays
Cavities on the chewing surfaces of your molars present a unique problem. Placing an amalgam filling in this area puts the tooth at risk for fracturing as constant pressures cause the tooth to split. Composite resin placed in this area is more subject to wearing down and breaking. Inlays and onlays provide an alternative to these traditional fillings that strengthen teeth, rather than compromise it. Inlays are used when decay affects a single cusp, while onlays are used when decay affects two or more. Typically made from porcelain, these treatments are known as indirect fillings, as they are designed and created outside of the tooth rather than cured inside of it.
Benefits of Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and onlays have some benefits:
The Procedure for Placing Inlays and Onlays
Unlike traditional fillings, which are done in a single visit, placing inlays and onlays takes two separate appointments. During your first appointment, we clean the tooth and drill away the decay. After the decay is removed, an impression is taken. This impression is sent to a dental lab, where the inlay or onlay is created. Because it can take up to two weeks for the restoration to be returned, a temporary filling is placed while you wait. When the inlay or onlay has been sent back, you return for your second appointment. At this appointment, we make sure everything looks and feels natural, and then we cement the inlay or onlay into place.
If a cavity has formed on the chewing surface of one of your molars, you may be a candidate for an inlay or onlay. For more information, or to schedule your consultation, call Smiles Cosmetic Dentistry by Dr. Shrenna Clifton today at (470) 400-2001.
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