A majority of people around the world will experience at least one cavity in their lives. Therefore, you are likely familiar with the treatment for this early stage of tooth decay. Dentists will drill away the damaged part of the tooth. Then they fill the resulting hole with resin, also known as a dental filling.
But fillings are not the only treatment for cavities. Sometimes, decay affects a larger section of a tooth than a filling can cover. Dentists may suggest a dental crown to fully restore a tooth. But they can also use inlays and onlays to rebuild the structure of a tooth. Read on to learn more about these two restorative dental treatments and how they differ from one another.
Treating Cavities with Inlays
You will need prompt treatment to get rid of cavities before the decay can spread and cause further harm to your tooth. The dentist drills away this dental damage, which will then need restorative treatment to reconstruct the tooth’s structure.
A filling, which features cured resin that sets in the hole where a cavity was, usually can provide enough reinforcement for the tooth. But a larger cavity, especially in the grooves of a molar, may need more coverage. In these cases, a dentist can use an inlay.
An inlay is a ceramic fixture that your dentist constructs in a lab to fit this hole in the tooth. Your dentist takes an impression of the affected tooth after treating the cavity so you can receive a perfectly fitting inlay. When it is ready, your dentist will cement the inlay into the tooth.
Like a filing, the inlay will seal the tooth and ensure plaque cannot infiltrate the area to create further damage to the tooth. You should take care of your inlay as you would a filling. Do this by practicing proper oral hygiene and avoiding immense pressures that could wear down your dental work.
Restorative Benefits with Onlays
While an inlay can fill a cavity inside the cusp of a tooth, an onlay will restore a tooth at its edges, outside the cusp. It features a ceramic piece uniquely constructed to rebuild the shape of your affected tooth. Because it serves as a cap to part of the tooth, many people compare an onlay to a dental crown.
A dental crown features a ceramic cap that covers the entire tooth, often serving as a replacement for damaged tooth enamel. In severe cases of tooth decay, a dentist will often employ a crown to treat the tooth.
But an onlay differs from a crown in that it covers a part of the tooth, not all of it. It restructures a tooth rather than completely replacing the natural build. Your dentist can let you know which type of restorative treatment you will need to fully restore your beautiful smile after experiencing tooth decay.
Do not delay cavity treatment and continue seeing your dentist for routine exams. The dentist can spot early signs of decay and intervene and treat the issue swiftly.