Fillings are used in our office to treat tooth decay as well as other damage. There are times when so much damage is present that a traditional filling will not work, but a crown is not the appropriate choice either. When a more extensive filling is needed, we go with an inlay or an onlay. Both can work well to restore the tooth to its natural state. Here at Colin M. McKinney, DMD, we can provide this indirect filling option so that your teeth can function normally, protecting the integrity of the tooth for an extended period.
Both an inlay and onlay are known as indirect fillings because they are created outside the mouth. This type of filling will be bonded to the tooth by the dentist. This is a different process from a traditional direct filling as the material is applied to the cavity directly by the dentist during the visit.
With an indirect filling, the dentist may choose to use an inlay or an only. An inlay will fit inside the cusps or the small points of a back tooth. An inlay is a smaller filling than an onlay. With an onlay, the filling will cover one or more of the cusps. With both options, the process of placing the filling is the same.
The process of placing an inlay or onlay is similar to a crown procedure. The difference between the two is that less of the natural tooth structure is removed via drilling when an inlay or onlay is used. With a crown, the tooth requires significant reshaping so that it will fit onto the tooth.
The first step of the inlay/onlay procedure is to numb the tooth and the area surrounding it. A local anesthetic is used and then any decay removed. The decay must be removed to ensure that infection cannot progress further within the tooth.
After the tooth has been prepared, an impression is made and sent to a laboratory. The impression is used to create a model of the tooth so that the inlay or onlay will fit perfectly. The filling can be constructed from several materials including resin, ceramic or gold.
A temporary filling will be placed on the tooth to protect it until the onlay or inlay is completed. Once attached to your tooth, the inlay/onlay will harden and be permanently in place. This filling type is a strong and long-lasting alternative to help you maintain your natural teeth when decay is present. Be sure to brush your teeth twice a day and have regular cleanings to ensure the restoration procedure will last for many years to come.
We can easily help you fill a tooth that has decayed, ensuring your overall oral health and a restored smile. This method can be used on one or more teeth, allowing you to maintain your natural teeth for many years to come. For more information about inlay and onlay fillings, call the experienced professionals here at Colin M. McKinney, DMD at (772) 266-2223 today!