A dental inlay is a premade filling that is used to restore an extensively decayed or damaged tooth. It is a single, solid restorative piece that is made to fit the specific shape of a cavity. An inlay covers the pits and fissures of a tooth's chewing surface between the cusp tips.
Dental inlay basics
Inlays are used on molars and premolars when the tooth cannot support a traditional filling. Their use is often recommended when a tooth has been weakened or extensively restored. A dentist may also suggest a dental inlay if previous fillings have broken.
What materials are used?
Dental inlays are often made from porcelain or composite resin to match the natural color of the teeth. An inlay can also be cast from gold. Gold inlays are costly but last the longest of any filling material.
How many office visits are required?
The procedure to place an inlay typically requires two office visits unless the dentist has a milling machine. This equipment can allow the dentist to complete the process in a single day and avoid having to place a temporary restoration.
How is the inlay placed?
Traditionally, the dental inlay process takes two appointments to complete the treatment. During the first appointment, the dentist prepares the tooth by removing any decay with a drill. Once the damage has been removed, the dentist creates a mold or impression of the tooth using putty. This mold is sent to a dental lab for the inlay fabrication. At the end of the first visit, the dentist places a temporary inlay on the tooth to protect it between appointments.
During the second office visit, the dentist removes the temporary inlay and cleans the tooth. The dentist next checks the fit of the permanent inlay and then bonds it to the tooth with dental cement. Finally, the dentist polishes and smooths the inlay.
How do you care for a dental inlay?
After receiving a dental inlay, patients may experience some sensitivity. During the first 24 hours after the appointment, patients should avoid eating sticky foods to make sure the inlay has fully bonded to the tooth.
To take care of dental inlays, it is essential that patients continue to brush and floss twice daily. To promote good oral health, patients should also continue to visit the dentist for regular cleanings and checkups.
What are the benefits?
There are many benefits associated with choosing a dental inlay. These restorations are less invasive than dental crowns and do not involve the removal of healthy tooth structure. Inlays can strengthen the teeth and protect against recurrent decay. They are durable and can last up to 30 years.
Inlays are a popular choice for patients because of their strength and durability. A dental inlay restores tooth functionality and prevents further decay or damage. If you are interested in learning more, discuss the options with a dentist.
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