What Is the Difference between Fillings, Inlays and Onlays?

Tooth decay is a common problem and we usually treat affected teeth by filling them. If you have recently visited your dentist in Basildon and have discovered you have tooth decay then they may have talked about fillings or an inlay or onlay, so what is the difference between each of these and when are they required?

Dental Fillings

Most of us are familiar with the concept of a filling. This is used to repair small to medium sized cavities in teeth and although in the past it was common to use silver coloured amalgam fillings, these days we are far more likely to suggest you have a white or tooth coloured filling. This is made from a strong composite resin material that comes in many different shades and translucencies. Using this filling material, our Basildon dentist can closely match the natural colour of your tooth so your new filling will be virtually invisible.

This material also bonds very strongly to your natural tooth, creating a tight seal that prevents bacteria from entering your tooth and it is a far more biocompatible material compared to amalgam. Composite fillings are hard wearing and should last for several years before they need replacing.

Inlays & Onlays

Inlays and onlays are suitable for larger cavities in your back teeth, or your premolars and molars. The chewing surfaces of these teeth often develop decay as they contain some quite deep grooves and fissures that can be difficult to keep thoroughly clean from food debris and bacteria. An inlay can repair the very central part of a back tooth. An onlay is slightly larger than an inlay, repairing not only the central chewing surface but also one or more of the cusps or raised points on the tooth.

An inlay or onlay is made from porcelain or gold so it is stronger and harder wearing than composite resin. Using this material will restore strength and structure to the tooth so you can chew food without fear of the tooth fracturing. We may suggest using a gold inlay or onlay if you have a particularly heavy bite as gold is quite soft and will be kinder to your opposing teeth as it will not damage the tooth enamel. A gold inlay or onlay is made in our dental laboratory using a detailed impression of your tooth that will be taken once it has been prepared by our dentist in Basildon.

However our porcelain inlays and onlays are quite beautiful and we can often make them while you wait using the very latest CAD/CAM technology as our practice has a CEREC machine. This is an on-site milling machine that can precision-make your new restoration while you wait. Once it is milled it is hand finished and can be permanently cemented in place so there is no need for you to have a temporary filling. The procedure to make a CEREC inlay or onlay is also a little different because we will not need to take an impression of your tooth as instead it is scanned using a tiny infrared camera.

Whichever type of filling you require, you can be sure it is made from the most advanced materials to give you long-lasting results. If you know you need a new filling or simply require a check-up, please contact Together Dental Basildon to book your appointment on 01268 726789.

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