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Treating Tooth Decay with Inlays and Onlays

gum-contouringThe teeth are continually exposed to food and beverages that contain acid, sugar, and starch, making teeth highly vulnerable to damage and decay. While minimal tooth decay is not considered a major dental problem, it can lead to serious conditions if it is not treated. One of the most common problems that results from severe tooth decay is a loss of strength and limited function of the affected tooth. When a tooth becomes compromised in this way, a dental crown needs to be placed in order to restore the tooth and avoid tooth loss. The San Diego cosmetic dentists at Scripps Center for Dental Care may be able to help patients avoid the need for a dental crown by applying an inlay or onlay to large areas of tooth decay.

What Are Inlays and Onlays?

Inlays and onlays are actually a type of dental filling. Unlike a traditional dental filling, inlays and onlays are fabricated in a dental laboratory as opposed to being created in the tooth, during treatment. For this reason, inlays and onlays are also known as indirect or partial fillings. Inlays and onlays also differ from traditional fillings in that they can treat larger areas of tooth decay. Our patients in San Diego are happy to learn that inlays and onlays may be an option when tooth decay is too extensive to be treated with a traditional dental filling. Unlike a dental crown, inlays and onlays can treat larger areas of decay without removing a significant amount of healthy tooth enamel. Instead, damaged enamel is removed and the tooth is cleaned of bacteria so that an impression can be made and an inlay or onlay can be fabricated. An inlay will be used when the damage exists within the cusps of the teeth. If one or more of the tooth’s cusps has also been damaged by tooth decay, an onlay will be placed.

Benefits of Inlays and Onlays

When a tooth is repaired with an inlay or onlay, these are some of the benefits a patient can expect:

Enhanced strength: An inlay or onlay can restore a tooth’s strength while keeping the tooth’s healthy, natural enamel in place.
Improved function: A tooth with significant decay often causes pain and discomfort that makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the tooth to function as it should. An inlay or onlay repairs the tooth and allows it to function properly.
Comfort: Because an inlay or onlay is custom made to fit the tooth, they provide a secure and comfortable fit.
Aesthetics: For our patients in San Diego, composite fillings are another option for the treatment of tooth decay. We believe in providing our patients with the strongest, most durable, and attractive restorations, so our traditional fillings, inlays, and onlays are always made of tooth-colored materials.

Schedule an Appointment

Tooth decay can greatly affect your oral health if it is left untreated. It is important to treat tooth decay while it is in its early stages. Schedule an appointment with one of our dentists at Scripps Center for Dental Care to learn more about inlays and onlays.

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