When a tooth is damaged, there are a number of procedures that can be done to repair it. Fillings are one of the most common and basic of dental procedures, but dental inlays and onlays are other options to repair more extensive damage. Unlike typical fillings, inlays and onlays are manufactured in a lab and cemented onto the existing tooth. Here is a breakdown of what each procedure is and what to expect:
Fillings are commonly used to repair teeth damaged by cavities. Your dentist will clean out the area affected by the decay and then “fill” it with a material that protects your tooth from further decay. Dental fillings are made of either gold, amalgam, or composite resins depending on a number of factors like affordability and cosmetic appearance.
Inlays are the next step up from a filling and are used when the tooth structure needing to be replaced is within the cusp tips, at the center of the tooth’s surface. An inlay is typically performed over two visits instead of one. At the first visit, the decay or damage is removed and an impression is made of the tooth’s surface to send to the lab. At the second visit, the inlay is fitted to the tooth and cemented there permanently.
Onlays are used to repair even more damage than an inlay. They work in the same way, but are used when the damage spans more than one cusp or if the entire biting surface needs to be repaired. Like inlays, they also require multiple visits and manufacturing in a lab, but onlays do offer patients a more affordable option to dental crowns.
Inlays and onlays both have options for the material used to make them that, again, can vary depending on a number of factors. Additionally, though, inlays and onlays can be made from porcelain which looks very similar to your natural tooth and is a stronger material than the metals and composite resin.
Ultimately, the type of treatment you receive depends on the extent of damage to your tooth or teeth caused by decay or injury. If your teeth are in need of repair, the staff at Hawkins Family Dental in Gainesville, GA will be happy to see you and guide you to which procedure will be right for you.
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