Inlays & Onlays
Cavities are a common oral health issue that affects the mouths of millions. They are the result of tooth decay. Decay is caused by acid erosion. Both plaque and bacteria in your mouth produce acids that, when they sit too long on the surfaces of your teeth, begin to eat away at the enamel. This leads to weak spots or decay. Eventually, cavities, or small pits, begin to form. Untreated, cavities only continue to grow in size and can compromise the structural integrity of your teeth and the health of your mouth. Typically, cavities can be treated with amalgam or composite fillings. Cavities on the chewing surfaces of your molars, however, can create a unique problem. Oasis Dental can treat these cavities with inlays and onlays.
Amalgam and Composite Fillings
Traditionally, cavities have been filled with amalgam fillings. This type of filling is made up of a mixture of metals suspended in liquid mercury. The metals used include tin, silver, copper, and nickel, among others. When cured, or hardened, amalgam is exceptionally strong and can withstand excessive bite forces.
Composite fillings were developed as an alternative to amalgam, providing a tooth-colored, metal and mercury free option. Composite fillings are made of a mixture of plastic and glass, among other materials. While not as strong as amalgam, composite resin can withstand most normal use.
While both amalgam and composite fillings are effective for most cavities, they may not be effective for cavities on the chewing surfaces of your molars. If an amalgam filling is placed in this area, the bite forces can drive the filling deeper into the tooth, causing it to fracture. A composite filling placed in this area can wear down faster under the constant pressure, and may even break, putting your tooth at risk for infection.
Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and onlays are special types of fillings called indirect fillings that are designed for treating cavities on the chewing surfaces of your molars. Inlays are used for cavities that affect a single cusp of the tooth. Onlays, often called partial crowns, are used to treat cavities that affect two or more cusps. These types of fillings are made from impressions of your tooth, rather than placing and curing a material inside the cavity. Inlays and onlays can be made from several different materials, with ceramic being the most popular.
How are Inlays and Onlays Placed?
Inlays and onlays are indirect fillings and often require two appointments to place. First, we clean the tooth and eliminate the decay from the cavity. Next, an impression of the tooth is taken. This impression is sent to a dental lab where your custom filling is created. Once it is finished, the inlay or onlay is checked for fit and bite before it is bonded into place in the cavity.
What are the Benefits of Inlays and Onlays?
There are several benefits associated with inlays and onlays. Their benefits include
If you have a cavity in the chewing surface of your molar, an inlay or an onlay may be the solution for you. Call Oasis Dental at (360) 836-1100 today to schedule your consultation and find out if inlays or onlays are right for you.
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