Cosmetic Dentistry: How Do Dental Inlays Differ From Fillings?

Posted on: June 4, 2020

cosmetic dentistry Aurora, CO

When it comes to cosmetic dentistry, these procedures can do more than just change the aesthetics of the mouth. While a dental practice specializing in cosmetics may primarily be focused on looks, this is not the only purpose. Dentists can help patients with dental issues by performing procedures to correct the problem and improve the look of the teeth. When a tooth has a cavity, many factors determine how the dentist proceeds. Take a look at the options a practitioner may use to repair an infected tooth.

The size of the cavity

One of the first things a dentist must determine is the extent of the damage caused by the cavity. When bacteria settle on the surface of teeth and are not removed promptly, the process of tooth decay begins. After some time, the bacteria will break through the enamel, entering the inner tooth. Once there, it continues to make its way down to the gum line, leaving a hole. Bacteria that have been burrowing for quite some time can open up a large cavity in the tooth, making it more challenging to fix.

Cosmetic dentistry and repair

It is not wrong to want a perfect smile. Depending on where the cavity is located, the last thing a patient wants is for the repair to be noticeable. Implementing a cosmetic approach can help the practitioner fix the tooth and keep the smile looking flawless.


The traditional way to fix cavities is by filling them. The dentist first cleans out the hole to ensure that no bacteria remain. Next, the dentist injects a filling into the hole, making sure the entire space is taken with the chosen material. According to, the most popular and commonly used filling type is a silver amalgam. However, over the years, people have started leaning towards tooth-colored fillings for a more natural and seamless look. Many dentists encourage patients to go with either a composite or porcelain filling.

Dental inlays

When a cavity proves to be too large for a traditional filling, the dentist may decide to use a dental inlay. This procedure begins the same as a conventional filling with the cleaning out of the infection. Then, the dentist makes an impression of the hole so that the laboratory can make the inlay. The patient will go home with a temporary filling until the inlay is ready to be implanted. The lab techs make the inlay out of ceramic to match the tooth color. Once the inlay is available, the dentist fastens it to the tooth with special cement or resin.


Whether a patient opts for a traditional filling or an inlay, cosmetic dentistry can help save a tooth. Both options can fix the cavity and last for many years. The significant difference is a filling is injected in the hole while the inlay is created and placed at a later time. Getting the tooth fixed and the cavity filled, regardless of how it is done, is imperative to maintaining good oral health.

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