Teeth are strong, but they are not completely resistant to damage. For example, they can develop tooth decay in a cavity or be damaged due to an injury. Fillings are usually sufficient to treat dental cavities and extensive damage is usually treated with a dental crown. If the damage lies somewhere in between these two situations, however, another option is available with dental inlays and onlays. You can find this treatment at William G. Ziecina D.D.S., P.C. in Shelby Township.

What are inlays and onlays?

Both of these treatments are considered “indirect” fillings because, unlike a common filling that is applied directly onto the affected tooth, they are created outside of the mouth (usually in a dental laboratory). They are later bonded onto the tooth. An inlay is placed to treat damage that lies within the cusps, or the little points, of a tooth. If the indirect filling covers one or more of the cusps, an onlay is used.

How are they used?

The procedure for inlays and onlays is similar to the one to have a crown placed, though it has a benefit in that less of the tooth structure has to be removed in preparation (a crown covers the whole tooth and requires more room and therefore more of the tooth to be shaved off).

A local anesthetic is used for the procedure to minimize pain and discomfort. Your dentist will then remove any traces of decay and prepare the tooth to receive the inlay or onlay. Once it has been prepared, an impression will be taken of it, either digitally or using a putty-like material. This impression will be sent to a dental laboratory and a temporary filling will be placed onto the tooth to keep it protected until your next visit.

Once the inlay or onlay is ready, it will be attached to the prepared tooth with either a resin that hardens once it’s cured or with a permanent cement.

Inlays and onlays do not require any special type of care or maintenance; you’ll simply need to continue your regular oral hygiene routine that includes daily brushing and flossing. Regular visits to your dentist at William G. Ziecina D.D.S., P.C. for a cleaning and exam will also ensure that you get the best use out of your inlay or onlay in Shelby Township.

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