At Soni Smiles General & Implant Dentistry in Clearwater, FL, we offer several options for restoring damaged or decayed teeth. Dental fillings are used to treat cavities (tooth decay) most of the time, and dental crowns are effective for repairing broken or otherwise damaged teeth. However, there are occasions when a tooth is damaged in a way that a filling can’t fix but that does not call for a crown (which requires part of the tooth to be shaved off; this removes part of the tooth unnecessarily and potentially weakens it). A large filling can sometimes be used, but it could also weaken the structure of the tooth, possibly leading to a break or crack. In these cases, the solution is to use inlays or onlays.
Dental inlays and onlays are restorations made from tooth-colored materials such as ceramic, porcelain, or composite that are bonded to teeth to repair damage and provide a natural-looking appearance. Inlays are used when the damage occurs between the cusp tips (in the center of the tooth) while onlays are used when the edge (the cusp) of the tooth is damaged. Onlays can also be used to cover the whole biting surface of a tooth.
Inlays and onlays are also called indirect fillings because they are not placed and shaped directly on the tooth as traditional fillings are but are crafted in a dental lab before being placed. The tooth receiving an inlay or only will first be prepared by having the decay removed. It will also be cleaned before having an impression taken. While waiting for the restoration to come back from the dental lab, a temporary covering will be fitted onto the tooth to keep it protected. Once the inlay or onlay has been completed, the covering for the tooth will be removed and replaced by the permanent restoration.
If you have had damage to a tooth, make an appointment at Soni Smiles General & Implant Dentistry to have it restored. Your dentist in Clearwater, FL will be able to determine the best treatment for it, whether it is a filling, crown, or inlays/onlays.