Inlays / Onlays
Inlays and onlays are a type of indirect filling used to restore teeth that are severely damaged or decayed. Generally, when more than half of the tooth's biting surface is damaged, inlays and onlays are the recommended choice of dental restoration.
Inlays and onlays are custom made in a lab, then bonded to the damaged area of the tooth. Inlays and onlays can be made of porcelain, gold or composite resin. Porcelain is the material of choice for inlays and onlays due to its strength and color, which matches the natural color of your teeth.
Onlay - Onlays (similar to dental crowns) are used to restore the outside of the tooth surface that has been severely decayed or damaged. Onlays are custom made to fit around the outside of the tooth, restoring the shape and function of the tooth. In many cases, where the damage to the tooth is not extensive enough to merit an entire crown, onlays can provide a very good alternative.
Inlay - Inlays (similar to dental fillings) are custom made restorations applied to the inside damaged tooth surface. Inlays are fitted to the tooth and then cemented in place to help strengthen the overall tooth structure.
Advantages of inlays/onlays
When compared to traditional metal fillings, inlays and onlays have many advantages:
- Inlays/onlays give the tooth a natural, aesthetic appearance
- Inlays/onlays can increase the strength of a tooth by up to 75%
- Inlays/onlays are resistant to stains
- Inlays/onlays can help insulate the tooth from exposure to hot and cold
- Inlays/onlays are durable and can last from 10 to 30 years
- Inlays/onlays can prevent tooth loss by preventing further decay from occurring to the affected tooth
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How are inlays/onlays applied?
Inlays and onlays require two dental appointments to complete the procedure. During the first visit, the damaged or decaying area of the tooth is removed and the tooth is prepared for the inlay or onlay. To ensure the inlay/onlay delivers proper fit and bite, an impression of the tooth is made by the dentist, and sent to a lab for custom fabrication. The dentist will then apply a temporary sealant on the tooth and schedule the next appointment.
At the second appointment, the temporary sealant is removed. The custom made inlay/onlay is then bonded to the tooth with a strong resin and polished to a smooth finish. The result? Natural looking teeth and a new and improved smile!
Amalgams are commonly known as silver fillings. They do contain some silver; however, they are a mixture (or alloy) of metals that are bound together, or in other words, amalgamated. Traditional amalgam fillings were bound together by using mercury; however, many of the newer amalgam materials do not use mercury.
Amalgam fillings have been used for many years and are often the preferred treatment for posterior fillings.
The average biting force in the posterior jaw is approximately 170 lb. of pressure. A dental restoration must be able to withstand such forces. Amalgam fillings do not change easily under stress and are soft, pliable and easily shaped into the prepared cavity. The amalgam then hardens quickly to form a very strong dental restoration able to endure the stress associated with chewing and biting. With specialised dental bonding systems, it is possible to create a bond between the amalgam and the tooth structure. This reduces the possibility of leakage or recurrent decay forming beneath the restoration.
Metals, as those used in amalgam restorations, are excellent thermal conductors. They rapidly transmit heat and cold through the tooth. Amalgam fillings help to protect the pulp against sudden temperature changes. The retention of this type of dental restoration is excellent and can last many years within the mouth.
Composite Resin Fillings (White)
Composite restorations have a natural, tooth-like appearance and are used primarily on anterior teeth, although many patients now prefer to have composite fillings placed on posterior teeth.
A major advantage of this type of restoration is that they match the tooth colour and are aesthetically pleasing.
Composites are made of a mixture of plastic and acrylic materials such as polymer matrix, quartz and lithium aluminium silicate. Polymerisation is a process in which a resin material changes from a plastic state into a hardened restoration. They are also capable of bonding directly to the tooth structure reducing the possibility of leakage.
The length of time that it takes to perform a composite resin restoration depends on the size of the restoration. Some restorations will only involve one surface and may not require anaesthetic, so the appointment may only take 10 to 15 minutes. When the procedure involves more surfaces of the tooth, the procedure may take longer. A composite resin restoration will restore the tooth to its original function with an aesthetically pleasing result.
Root Canal Treatment
can provide an effective means of saving a tooth that might otherwise require removal. The presence of the teeth and their root structures helps to maintain the overall structure of the jaw. Root canal treatment may be recommended if the pulp of the tooth becomes dead (non-vital).
The pulp is the main source of blood supply to the tooth and it receives its nourishment from vessels that pass through the roots of the tooth (root canals). If the pulp becomes non-vital, if there is irreversible inflammation present or if the tooth has suffered trauma through an injury, root canal treatment may be warranted. A tooth that is abscessed will show a localised pus formation at the root end of the tooth. If the abscess is left untreated you may experience severe discomfort and the infection could spread to the surrounding bone.
Root canal treatment may not be recommended if the tooth has a poor prognosis (can not be saved) or if the inflammation is reversible. A pre-existing health condition may also affect the decision as to whether or not the client should undergo root canal treatment. Your dentist will discuss all available treatment options.