When a tooth shows signs of decay or damage, a dentist may recommend one or several dental restoration options. One of the more common options, aside from filling, is a dental inlay. For patients to make informed decisions regarding treatment, it is important to understand what an inlay is and how it differs from a…
Dental Inlay vs. Dental Filling
For cavities, a dental inlay may be a good option to treat the decayed tooth. Many people probably think of fillings when it comes to repairing cavities. While this treatment can be effective, it is worth considering inlays as well. Both have benefits and drawbacks. Your dentist can explain the process of each treatment to you. Regardless of which method you choose, you can find pain relief and restore the health of your ailing tooth.
Tooth decay and its causes
A cavity is one of the conditions that a general dentist will most frequently treat in patients. These occur when bacteria attack the enamel of a tooth, breaking it down and creating small holes in the tooth. Untreated, a cavity can become larger and eventually penetrate deep into the tooth. The individual could lose the tooth if a dentist does not intervene and clean out the decay. Brushing at least twice a day will remove food particles and debris that cause bacteria buildup. Daily flossing will also prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar that results in tooth decay.
How a filling works
For many patients, getting a dental inlay is a new concept. Fillings are more common for people. To fill a cavity, the dentist must first numb the patient and drill into the tooth. The dentist then removes the decay and probes the area with a dental tool to make sure there is nothing left. The dentist then cleans out any remaining bacteria and debris. The hole is sealed with the filling, which is made of metal (such as silver or gold) or tooth-colored composite resin.
How a dental inlay works
Unlike a filling, an inlay is pre-fabricated and placed on the tooth. It fits into the grooves of the tooth but does not extend over the cusps. The placement process is similar to that of a filling. To properly make the inlay, the dentist will take X-rays of the patient’s teeth.
The dentist numbs the patient with a local anesthetic and then drills into the tooth. After thoroughly cleaning the tooth, the dentist puts on the inlay. It is bonded in place with dental cement. Using light, the dentist cures it to harden it quickly.
When the dentist prefers using an inlay
In some cases, it may be more effective to use a dental inlay instead of a filling. When the cavity is too large for a filling to support, an inlay makes more sense. The dentist will make the pre-molded inlay to be the size and shape of the cavity. Inlays also have an advantage over fillings when it comes to durability and life span. An inlay can last up to 30 years with proper care and maintenance. At regular dental examinations, the dentist will check on the integrity of the inlay.
Repair your tooth and find pain relief
Damage from tooth decay can be severe. It can affect both your smile and oral health. If the cavity is too large for a filling, or if you want a different option, talk to your dentist. You may be a good candidate for a dental inlay.
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