Restoration of teeth is the foundation of dentistry, whether due to decay, wear, or fracture, restoring your teeth is an investment in your health. There are several different types of dental restoration, and a variety of materials that can be used. Which type is needed depends on the extent of damage and unique circumstances of each patient.
A crown or “cap” replaces the exterior portion of a tooth to re-establish its original function and create a natural appearance. Crowns are the treatment of choice in situations where tooth decay has destroyed most of the original tooth, when a traumatic event has caused damage, after root canal treatment, or in cases of severe enamel erosion. They are also an option for people who grind or clench their teeth so much that the original structure of their teeth has been compromised. Crowns can be made as all metal, porcelain fused to metal, or all-ceramic (porcelain).
Inlays & Onlays
Inlays are small restorations that fit inside the tooth, similar to fillings, that are fabricated in the lab instead of placed directly. Traditionally, they were made of gold, but today inlays are available in gold, porcelain, and composite resin. Inlays take two visits to complete and are bonded into place with dental resin.
Onlays are restorations that can sometimes be used instead of crowns. Like inlays, an onlay fits inside of a tooth like a filling, but onlays extend onto the biting surface of the tooth. They are used when more tooth structure has been damaged to replace one or more tooth cusps. Onlays are also made at a laboratory and require two visits to complete.
Dr. Smith will be happy to discuss restorative options such as fillings, inlays, onlays, and crowns, and which ones are right for your dental situation.
Tooth-Colored Fillings and Restorations
Today dentists use high density, state-of-the-art composite resins and porcelain materials instead of unsightly metals to restore teeth. These materials more naturally mimic the look, feel, and function of teeth and actually bond directly to the remaining enamel and dentin. This means that new fillings preserve more of the natural tooth so that less repair work is necessary immediately and in the future. When placed using the proper technique, these modern filling materials look so natural that it’s almost impossible to tell that your tooth has a filling.
Many adults already have existing metal fillings. ADA research indicates that there is no risk associated with those types of restorations. Almost all restorations done today are tooth-colored, but amalgam is still used in rare situations where it is difficult to use composite resin. If you have a preference of materials, please feel free to mention it prior to treatment.