Tooth decay is a nasty condition that can wreak havoc on your pearly whites. If you’ve ever fallen victim to the wrath of cavity-causing oral bacteria, you know that a filling is one of the best ways to repair dental damage.
While fillings are usually the first-line treatment for small cavities, they usually aren’t suitable for severe tooth decay. Luckily, dentists have several advanced methods of restoring your teeth to improve both their form & function.
Inlays & Onlays: Fillings-Plus
If a cavity becomes too big, it may put the structural integrity of your tooth at risk. When this happens, simply putting a filling in that space is not enough to hold your tooth together. In this case, the next step up from a filling is an inlay.
Inlays are sturdier than fillings, but they also require more dental work. Your dentist will need to take an impression of the affected tooth to send to a dental lab, which will fabricate the inlay for a perfect fit. In the meantime you’ll be given a temporary inlay until your second appointment, when the dentist will put in the final restoration.
Onlays are similar to inlays, but they are used when tooth decay has spread from the inside grooves to the cusp, which is the raised edge that runs around your tooth. The cusp is your primary biting surface, so an onlay can help you regain the ability to chew your favorite foods.
Crowns: A New Tooth Fit for a King
Left untreated long enough, a cavity can become far too large or widespread to merely fill the gap with a filling, inlay or onlay. The heavy-duty solution for patients with advanced tooth decay is typically a dental crown.
Like with inlays & onlays, preparing & placing a crown takes two appointments. During your initial appointment, your dentist will take an impression of all your teeth, file down your damaged tooth & give you a temporary crown while the lab creates a permanent one. When you come back, your dentist will fit the crown.
This might sound like an exhausting process, but it’s a worthwhile way to take back your smile from pesky plaque & caries. With any of the aforementioned options, you’ll be able to easily enjoy the way your teeth look & eat whatever you like without worry.