A cavity is an incredibly common dental issue that affects the teeth of millions of individuals of all ages. Cavities are usually treated with an amalgam or composite filling. While these fillings are successful in most cases, there are some instances in which either one of these fillings can further compromise the affected tooth and your oral health. Cavities on the chewing surfaces of your molars can present particularly difficult situations. At Anchorage Dental Associates, we can treat these cavities with inlays and onlays.
How Cavities are Traditionally Treated
In most cases, cavities can generally be treated with either an amalgam or a composite resin filling. Amalgam fillings are made up of a mixture of metals suspended in mercury. These fillings are well known for their incredible strength. Composite fillings are made up of a mixture of plastic, fine glass, and other materials. These fillings provide a tooth-colored, metal and mercury-free alternative to amalgam fillings, and are an ideal solution for many cavities in the front teeth.
While these fillings can meet some different needs, cavities in the chewing surfaces of your molars present unique problems. These surfaces are exposed to incredibly strong chewing forces. These forces can drive an amalgam filling deeper into the tooth, causing fractures or even completely splitting the tooth. A composite resin filling is not strong enough to withstand these forces and can wear out prematurely or shatter.
What are Inlays and Onlays?
Inlays and onlays are fillings designed to treat cavities in the chewing surfaces of your molars, restoring the strength of the affected teeth rather than compromising it. These fillings are known as indirect fillings, meaning that they are created outside of the tooth, rather than cured inside of the cavity. Inlays are meant to treat cavities in the grooves of the teeth, between the cusps. Onlays, which are sometimes called partial crowns, are designed to treat cavities that affect the cusps of your molars. They help to rebuild the tooth while restoring its health and strength. Inlays and onlays can both be made from a variety of materials including composite resin, metal, gold, and porcelain.
The Indirect Filling Process
The process for getting inlays and onlays requires two separate appointments. During your first appointment, we first prepare the cavity. This process is not unlike preparing a tooth for an amalgam or composite resin filling. We clean the tooth and drill away the decay. After the decay has been removed, an impression of your tooth is taken. This impression is sent to our dental lab, where technicians use it to design and create a custom filling from the chosen material. Because it can take up to two weeks for the inlay or onlay to be completed, a temporary filling is placed while you wait. Once the indirect filling is completed, we check it for fit and a natural bite before bonding it into place inside of the cavity.
Benefits of Inlays and Onlays
There are many benefits associated with inlays and onlays. These benefits include
With an inlay or onlay, we can help to strengthen a tooth affected by a cavity, restoring the health of your mouth and protecting it from further harm. For more information on inlays and onlays, and to schedule your appointment, call Anchorage Dental Associates at (907) 276-7366 today.
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