what is the difference between an inlay and a filling?
An inlay is a go between dental treatment. It is used for teeth where a crown is not yet needed, but a filling will not work. It is basically a little piece of a crown that is stuck into your natural tooth. The main difference, then, between fillings and inlays is that they are made of different materials. While a small crack or cavity in a tooth can be filled with white composite, a larger hole or a missing piece of a tooth cannot. That is why the same materials are used when making inlays as when making crowns, the most common being porcelain and precious metals. An inlay can be thought of as a partial crown.
how long do dental inlays last?
Inlays and onlays can potentially last for decades. This depends of course on how well you take care of your teeth, what sort of foods you eat, and many other factors. The condition of the tooth that it is placed in also has a lot to do with how long the inlay will last.
what are they made from?
There are basically three types of inlays that we can differentiate based on what materials they are made from. One of them, the rarest and worst one in terms of longevity and quality of product is the one that is made out of filling material, or tooth coloured composite gradia. This is basically just a big filling, and it will fall out of teeth that are too far gone. Only in certain cases can an inlay made of this material be used.
The next one is the most common one, when the inlay or onlay is made from porcelain. This is also tooth coloured so it blends in perfectly. Basically, this inlay is like a piece of a crown used to fill up a chunk of a missing tooth. Usually, only the cusps are treated in this way, and if the piece missing is quite deep, you can use a filling to get up until the cusps, and have an inlay or an onlay covering and replacing the cusps.
The final option is gold. Obviously not as aesthetically pleasing as porcelain but is often recommended for its wear properties which are similar to those of your natural teeth.
Am I suitable for an inlay?
The suitibility for an inlay or onlay will be determined by numerous factors. Your dentist will first look at how much tooth structure needs to be restored, how you teeth meet together and whether their are any other factors such as periodontal disease. If the part of the tooth to be replaced in small, a filling may be more appropriate whereas if it is a large a crown would be the treatment of choice.
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