Dental restorations offer ways to preserve your teeth and take care of your oral health even when signs of decay begin to occur. A problem might start out as a very small cavity, but if you have not kept up with regular dental appointments and did not notice any pain, it is possible you may…
What’s the Difference Between a Dental Inlay and a Filling?
A dental inlay and a filling are both used to treat tooth decay, but they are completely different restorations. Dentists also have completely different approaches when it comes to administering inlays or fillings. The former typically requires at least two trips to the dentist, while the latter can be completed during a single trip.
The differences between an inlay and fillings
Besides both being used to treat tooth decay, inlays and fillings could not be more different. Here are the main differences between these two types of dental restorations.
1. They are administered differently
A dental filling is a direct restoration that is applied directly to the affected tooth. It has a putty-like constituency and hardens upon exposure to saliva, air, or a curing light. The most common types of fillings used in dentistry are silver amalgam ones, but composite bonding is increasingly being used as an alternative due to its improved aesthetics.
An inlay is an indirect restoration that is usually made in a dental lab. After removing decayed material from the affected tooth, the dentist takes an impression of it and sends it to a lab. It takes around two weeks for the restoration to return to the dentist. During a second appointment, the dentist will cement the inlay to the patient’s tooth.
2. They address different types of decay
Fillings are typically used to fix cavities, which are small holes created by tooth decay. They can be used to fix small to moderately sized cavities, but they do not restore the structural integrity of the affected tooth. Inlays are recommended when tooth decay affects the biting surfaces of a patient’s teeth. It restores the function of the tooth being treated.
3. Fillings are more likely to weaken teeth
Fillings tend to expand when exposed to extreme temperatures, which can end up damaging a person’s teeth. It is one of the reasons that dentists typically recommend other restorations for large cavities. The expansion of a filling can lead to cracks forming on a tooth, leaving the soft tissues inside the pulp chamber exposed to bacteria in the mouth.
4. Inlays make teeth stronger
Inlays are customized for the patient’s teeth, so they fit right in the cavity. This strengthens the tooth being treated and restores its function. Since inlays are made in a dental lab, they can be made with stronger materials, like porcelain, which is more durable than most materials used as fillings.
Get treatment for tooth decay
Knowing what separates inlays from fillings helps you understand why your dentist might choose one over the other. Fillings are the most commonly used restorations for cavities, but others, like inlays, onlays, or crowns, might be recommended if the decay has been allowed to progress.
Our dentist can help you stop tooth decay in its tracks. Call our Coral Gables clinic or stop by to set up an appointment.
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