Many people consider that, when they have a cavity, they need a filling. That’s sometimes true, although there are other tooth restoration alternatives that may be better choices. In particular, dental inlays and onlays provide the protection a treated cavity needs while often adding strength to the filled tooth.
At Los Altos Family Smiles, we specialize in both family and cosmetic dentistry, so we focus not only on tooth care and repair, we consider how your teeth look, too. Instead of the metallic appearance of an amalgam filling, we can make inlays and onlays that closely match the look of your natural tooth enamel. You’ll make more informed dental care decisions with a better understanding of the benefits of inlays and onlays.
When decay starts on the enamel of your tooth, the dentist drills away the decayed tissue to ensure it doesn’t spread along the surface. This is a common first step to stop decay in its tracks.
Fillings use special materials to directly fill the void. Traditionally, metal amalgam fillings were common, though today you can also get fillings made of composite resins that have a look that’s much more like natural enamel.
Similarly, ceramic inlays and onlays fill the prepared void after decay removal, though they extend beyond the site of the original cavity. Inlays and onlays each have a specific placement on a tooth, and they may increase the strength of a tooth as much as 75% compared with conventional fillings. They may also last up to 30 years.
Decay on the biting surface of a molar or premolar often starts in the natural pits and valleys on the surface of the tooth. As well as decay, cracks and fractures can also happen in these low spots. These could prove difficult for repairs with traditional fillings.
This is an ideal time for an inlay to preserve the tooth. It restores the tooth’s surface and shape while adding strength. It’s the perfect choice when your tooth doesn’t require the strength of a full dental crown.
The edges of molars and premolars raise around the central valleys. These cusps mesh with teeth on the other jaw in the same position. When decay or damage affects the cusp, you’ll need an onlay for restoration. Made from the same ceramics as inlays, the name of the repair changes only because of the location of the repair. Otherwise, the procedure is similar.
The primary benefit of inlays and onlays is the additional strength they offer. In some cases, traditional fillings make teeth weaker, so you can expect later dental work in addition to the original filling.
Talk to the dental care professionals at Los Altos Family Smiles about your options for repairing tooth damage. You can request an appointment online or call our office directly to book your consultation. Don’t give tooth decay the upper hand. Schedule your visit today.