Amalgam and Composite Fillings
In most cases, cavities can be treated with either amalgam or composite resin fillings. Amalgam fillings are made up of a mixture of metals that are suspended in mercury. These fillings are incredibly strong and can provide an ideal solution for cavities at the back of the mouth. Composite resin fillings are made up of a mixture of fine glass, plastic, and other materials. These fillings are tooth-colored, which allows them to blend in perfectly with the rest of your natural tooth structure. They are not as strong as amalgam but can withstand most normal daily use.
While these fillings are successful in many cases, there is a certain situation in which they may not be ideal. An amalgam filling in the chewing surface of a molar can be driven deeper into the tooth, causing the tooth to fracture or split. A composite resin filling can wear out faster or shatter under constant chewing pressures.
Inlays and onlays are types of fillings that are designed to treat cavities in the chewing surfaces of your molars. They are known as indirect fillings, meaning that they are created from impressions of your mouth, rather than cured inside of the cavity. An inlay treats a cavity in the crevices of the chewing surfaces of a molar, between the cusps. An onlay treats a cavity that affects the cusps of the molar. It is commonly called a partial crown, helping to rebuild the tooth while also treating your cavity. Both inlays and onlays can be made from many materials, including metal, gold, composite resin, and porcelain. Porcelain is the most popular option.
Why Get an Inlay or Onlay?
There are many benefits to inlays and onlays. These benefits include
- Restoring the strength of the tooth.
- Preserving more of your natural tooth structure.
- The filling will not shrink inside of the tooth.
- Affordability. Inlays and onlays are more affordable and less invasive than crowns.
The Procedure for Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and onlays require two appointments. During your first appointment, the tooth is cleaned, and the decay is drilled away from the cavity. Next, we take an impression of your tooth. The impression is sent to our dental lab. It is used to design and fabricate your custom inlay or onlay. Because it can take up to two weeks for your inlay or onlay to be completed, a temporary filling is placed. This temporary filling helps to protect your tooth while you wait. Once your restoration is complete, we check it for fit and to ensure a natural bite. It is then secured into place inside the cavity using a special bonding agent.
With inlays and onlays, we can provide effective treatment for cavities on the chewing surfaces of your molars.
Are you interested in learning more about inlays and onlays? Give us a call at (503) 647-4565. We are happy to help you learn more about your smile!