What are fillings?
Fillings do just what the name implies – seal a small hole or cavity in your tooth, caused by decay. This prevents the decay (a bacteria-induced infection) from spreading further into your tooth and, if untreated, continue on to the sensitive inner pulp (nerve) tissue located in the root canal. Should that happen, you would need root canal treatment.
What are the two different types of fillings?
Also known as ‘tooth-coloured’ fillings, most fall into 2 major categories: composite resins and glass ionomer cements. Composite resins in particular can look very natural if done well. Many patients prefer tooth coloured fillings because they look natural compared to silver fillings but there are material and tooth factors to be considered for each filling that needs to be done.
Silver fillings, or amalgam fillings have been used by the dental profession for a very long time, with a good track record of clinical success. As amalgam fillings are grayish, many patients request for tooth coloured fillings instead of silver fillings in visible areas of the mouth.
2. INLAYS AND ONLAYS
What are inlays and onlays?
Inlays and onlays are done to repair damage done to a tooth by decay is too extensive to be treated with a simple filling, yet not significant enough to need a full-coverage crown.
Also known as “indirect” fillings, inlays and onlays offer a well-fitting, stronger, longer-lasting reparative solution to moderately damaged teeth. They are fabricated outside the mouth (usually by a dental laboratory) and then glued to the tooth by the dentist. This is in contrast to a “direct” filling, which is applied directly to the cavity by the dentist in one office visit.
Inlays are contained within the cusp tips of teeth, while onlays are more extensive restorations that cover tooth cusps. Inlays and onlays can be made made of porcelain, ceramic or composite material.
What is the process of having an inlay or onlay fitted?
The fitting of inlays and onlays usually requires two visits. The first visit involves removing the old filling and decay. An impression of the prepared cavity is taken and sent to the dental laboratory for fabrication of the inlay or onlay. A temporary filling is placed until the next visit.
At the second visit, the temporay is removed and the new inlay/onlay is glued into place with a powerful glue.
Why do an inlay or onlay, instead of a normal filling?
Strength and durability are major advantages of inlays and onlays for moderately damaged teeth. An onlay is much stronger than any other type of filling. Large fillings usually weakened a tooth over time. Inlays and onlays are glued onto teeth, and this glue is used to increase the overall strength of the tooth.
Inlays and onlays also demonstrate superior appearance. Porcelains, ceramics and composite material can be fabricated to match the colour and shape of natural teeth better than a normal filling.