A dental inlay is a type of dental filling that dentists use to restore and repair teeth that have been fractured, cracked or damaged by decay. The dental inlay is fitted into the grooves of a tooth but it does not extend over the cusps of a tooth.
When is a dental inlay used?
Dentists will use a dental inlay if the damage to the tooth is too extensive to be repaired using regular fillings but not extensive enough to require the use of a dental crown. Unlike the regular fillings that are used to fill up cavities, dental inlays are made in a dental laboratory before they are bonded to your tooth by your dentist.
What does the inlay procedure involve?
The procedure is similar to that used for dental crowns. Your dentist will examine the hole in the tooth then use a local anesthetic to numb you while they drill your tooth to remove the decay and clean out the remaining tooth to prevent the decay from spreading.
Your dentist will then make an impression of the tooth digitally or by using a putty-like material. The impression is then sent to the dental laboratory for your inlay to be made. The dental inlay is usually made from porcelain or a composite resin material because they can be made to match the color of your natural teeth.
The ceramic and composite resin inlays are more durable than regular fillings but gold inlays are the most durable. Despite being the most durable, most people avoid getting gold inlays because the color doesn’t match their natural teeth which makes it noticeable when you are talking.
After the impression of your tooth has been made, your dentist will use a temporary filling to seal your tooth until the dental inlay has been sent back from the laboratory. Once your dentist receives the inlay, they will ask you to come in for a second visit so that the permanent inlay can be attached to your damaged tooth.
What is the difference between fillings, dental inlays and dental onlays?
Regular dental fillings are used to restore teeth damaged by decay, returning them to their normal function and preventing further decay. They are used to fix small cavities and they are the most commonly used type of dental fillings.
Dental outlays are used to repair teeth that have been damaged at the cusps, tip or biting surface by drilling the tooth to remove the decayed parts and filling it with an onlay. Dental inlays are used to fix damage inside the cusps of the tooth.
The bottom line
Dental inlays are very effective when it comes to filling up big holes caused by damage or decay that does not affect the cusps of your tooth. If you have a damaged or decayed tooth that is too large to be fixed by regular dental fillings, ask your dentist if you are the right candidate for a dental inlay.
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