Not all types of tooth decay may benefit from a traditional dental filling. In these cases, a reliable and durable alternative may be necessary. For patients who may need a more advanced restoration option on any of their teeth, but may not quite need more invasive restoration options (such as a root canal or a crown), a dental inlay may help preserve the affected tooth and prevent it from loss. We here at Long Island Smile can knowledgeably assess a tooth and make an educated recommendation on if the patient might benefit from a dental inlay.
What is a Dental Inlay?
If you have a dental filling, then there is a good chance that you are familiar with the process of getting one. Traditional dental fillings are considered a type of direct restoration. That means that the filling is both created and placed directly at the site of the affected tooth.
However, dental inlays are quite different. These are considered a type of indirect restoration. That means that a patient’s inlay is not manufactured inside a patient’s mouth. Instead, we will take an impression of the affected site. This impression is sent to our laboratory, where the creation of the patient’s inlay will begin. The patient will need to return for a final fitting of their inlay.
Dental inlays are often confused with dental onlays, but there are a few key differences between them. One main difference is that inlays are used only on the points of the teeth (the cusps), whereas onlays are used on both the cusps and the flat chewing surfaces. Dental inlays are used on both front teeth and back teeth, but they are more common on the front teeth.
What Type of Material is Used in a Dental Inlay?
Dental inlays are typically made of three different types of materials. One choice that is popular (especially on the back teeth, which are less visible) is gold. Gold is a good option, as it is very durable and does not damage the tooth when the temperature in the mouth changes.
Composite resin is also often used, but we do not advise it as often on the back teeth. That is because it can be fragile. It can resemble your natural teeth quite well. Finally, porcelain is a great choice for many of our patients. It is stronger than composite resin, but it closely matches the appearance of your real teeth. It can be used on a patient’s front or back teeth.
Who May Require an Inlay?
There are many different practical applications for a dental inlay. For patients who may have decay or injury to their teeth that would not benefit from a direct filling, an inlay can help protect the tooth. Dental inlays are also a good option for patients who are wanting to remove an old amalgam filling. They may decide to do this for either functional (especially if the filling is no longer performing well) or cosmetic reasons.
Many patients may benefit from a dental inlay. They are a better option than other types of restorations in a variety of cases, which means they can help protect a tooth that may otherwise be at risk of loss. To learn more about dental inlays, or to set up an appointment with us here at Long Island Smile, please give us a call at (516) 243-7473 today!