Inlays & Onlays
Cavities are the result of acid erosion. Harmful acids are produced by both plaque and oral bacteria, which collect on your teeth. While plaque is naturally acidic in nature, bacteria produce acids as they feast on the sugars in your mouth. When these acids are left on your teeth for too long, they begin to eat away at the protective enamel layer, causing the formation of small pits, or cavities. Without proper treatment, cavities only continue to worsen and can result in serious damage and painful tooth infections. Most cavities are treated with amalgam or composite fillings. However, fillings in certain areas of the teeth, most notably the chewing surfaces of your molars, can compromise the teeth rather than protect them. At Kelly Smile Dentistry, we can treat these cavities with inlays and onlays.
Traditional Cavity Treatment
Cavities are typically treated with either an amalgam or a composite resin filling. An amalgam filling is made up of a mixture of metals suspended in liquid mercury. When cured, it is exceptionally hard and can withstand very strong bite forces. However, it is silver in color, and the mercury content often raises concerns. Additionally, when placed on the chewing surface of a molar, the filling can act as a wedge and can cause further damage.
Composite resin fillings provide an alternative to amalgam. Made up of plastic, fine glass and other materials, these fillings are tooth colored. They do not contain any metals or any mercury. However, they are not as strong as amalgam. If placed on the chewing surface of a molar, the pressure could cause the filling to break.
Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and onlays are an alternative to traditional fillings, commonly used to treat cavities in the chewing surfaces of your molars. While they can be made from a few different types of materials, they are commonly made from ceramic. Ceramic blends in beautifully with the color of the natural tooth, rendering the restoration invisible.
Both of these fillings are commonly called indirect fillings. This is because, unlike traditional fillings which are cured inside of the tooth, they are created outside of the tooth and then cemented into place. An inlay treats a cavity that affects only one cusp of the molar while an onlay treats a tooth that has two or more cusps affected by decay.
Inlay and Onlay Procedure
Getting your inlays or onlays is typically a two-appointment procedure. At your first appointment, we clean the tooth and take impressions. Cleaning the tooth involves the use of a drill to drill away the decay. After the tooth has been thoroughly cleaned, we take an impression. This impression will be sent off to our dental lab, where your inlay or onlay is designed and then created.
It can take up to two weeks for the restoration to be completed and sent back. During this time, a temporary filling is placed to protect the tooth. Once it is ready, you return for your second appointment. We check the restoration for fit and color and cement it into place.
Benefits of Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and onlays offer several benefits.
If you have a cavity in the chewing surface of a molar, you may benefit from treatment with an inlay or onlay. For more information, and to schedule your consultation, call Kelly Smile Dentistry today at (442) 229-0766.
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