When a dentist removes decay, the void left by drilling must be filled with something to provide a proper bite surface and a pleasing aesthetic appearance. When patients have cavities on teeth with large bite surfaces, they’re often offered a choice in the way the cavity is treated. While composite fillings are very common, occasionally dentists will recommend inlays or onlays – knowing the difference can be helpful in knowing which to choose.
Composite fillings are synthetic resins that are bonded onto teeth in the cavity left by the decay. The composite resin is similar in color to natural teeth and can be shaped to fit into the natural curves of the teeth. However, it is softer than natural tooth material, and may not last as long as other solutions.
Inlays serve a similar purpose as composite fillings, but do so in a different way. Where a composite filling is bonded onto the tooth, an inlay is a restoration that is created – typically in a lab – and then cemented into place. The inlays are made of a much stronger material, and are molded to perfectly match the natural tooth curves. However, dentists will need to remove much more tooth material to get an inlay in place. The larger the decay, the more likely it is the dentist will recommend an inlay, as the inlay will be able to provide more strength for the weakened tooth than the softer composite resin.
If your dentist recommends inlays, rest assured that they’re typically a great way to add strength to a tooth that has been weakened by decay. While inlays aren’t as strong as a procedure such as a dental crown, they’re significantly stronger than composite fillings and provide a great visual match with natural teeth. If you have questions about the procedure, call your dentist – they’ll be happy to explain the pros and cons, and what you can expect during the process.
Schedule an appointment today with Dr. David Lunt DDS Restorative, Preventive and General Dentistry by calling 818-885-7230. Visit the website for more information at www.davidluntdds.com.
Dr. Lunt welcomes patients from Cal State Northridge, Burbank, San Fernando, Topanga Canyon, Valley Glen, Agoura and all surrounding areas.