Inlays and Onlays
While commonly associated with children, cavities are actually a very common oral health issue that affects millions of individuals, both children and adults alike. 91% of adults in the US have had at least one cavity in a permanent tooth. Composite fillings are a common treatment for cavities and are effective in most cases. However, some cavities present complications. Placing fillings in certain types of cavities, such as those on the chewing surfaces of molars, can compromise the integrity of the affected tooth, leaving it susceptible to further harm. At West End Dental, we can treat more complicated cavities with inlays and onlays.
Composite fillings are a common treatment used to treat cavities in teeth. Made up of a mixture of fine glass, plastic, and other materials, composite fillings provide an alternative to traditional amalgam fillings. Unlike amalgam, composite fillings are free of metals as well as mercury. They are also tooth-colored They blend in perfectly with the rest of your natural tooth enamel, making them ideal for cavities in the front the teeth. While not as strong as amalgam, they can withstand most daily wear and tear.
While composite fillings can be used in a variety of different situations, they are not ideal for every situation. Placing these fillings on the chewing surfaces of your molars can compromise the filling and your tooth. The excessive pressures at the back your mouth can cause amalgam to wear out faster and break, leaving the tooth susceptible to bacterial invasion. At the same time, amalgam fillings can be driven deeper into the tooth under these forces, which can cause the tooth to fracture and split.
What are Inlays and Onlays?
Inlays and onlays are types of fillings that are designed to treat cavities on the chewing surfaces of your molars. Unlike composite and amalgam fillings, inlays and onlays strengthen the tooth, rather than compromising it further. Inlays and onlays are referred to as indirect fillings and are frequently made from porcelain. Where composite and amalgam are cured inside of the cavity, inlays and onlays are made from impressions of your mouth. Inlays are used to treat cavities that affect only one cusp of your molars. Onlays are used to treat cavities that affect two or more cusps and are sometimes referred to as partial crowns.
The Process for Inlays and Onlays
The process for getting inlays and onlays is a bit more involved that traditional fillings and requires two separate appointments. During the first appointment, we clean the tooth and remove the decay. Next, an impression of your tooth is taken. The impression is sent to our dental lab where it is used to design and create your custom inlay or onlay. At your second appointment, your custom restoration is checked for fit and to ensure a natural bite. If it fits properly, it is then bonded into place inside the cavity.
What Benefits Do Inlays and Onlays Offer?
Inlays and onlays provide several benefits.
||They help to restore strength to the tooth, rather than compromise it.
||Less of your natural tooth structure needs to be removed than with traditional fillings.
||Because they are created outside of the tooth, they will not shrink inside the cavity.
||Inlays and onlays are both more affordable and more conservative than crowns.
Both inlays and onlays offer an alternative to composite fillings that restore your oral health and provide strength to teeth affected by cavities. Call West End Dental today at (503) 446-2957 to learn more and find out if an inlay or onlay is right for you.