How Can Dental Inlays Help Me?

A dental inlay is used to fill the kinds of cavities that a filling cannot seal. Dental fillings work fine when a tooth has a small cavity or a mild case of tooth decay, but they have their limits. A tooth that has lost a sizeable chunk of its structure needs a dental restoration that will reinforce it.

So when your dentist tells you that you need a dental inlay, you should have some idea why that is. You should also know what an inlay is and how it works.

What is an inlay?

It is an indirect dental restoration that is placed inside the tooth. Dental inlays are made in a dental lab based on an impression of a patient’s teeth. They are custom-made to fit into the space left by the removal of decayed or damaged dental tissue.

Unlike a dental onlay, an inlay does not cover the chewing surface or the sides of a tooth. It only seals the tooth and extends no further than the cusp.

How an inlay is placed?

When a patient goes to the dentist complaining of a toothache, this is what happens:

  • The dentist examines the tooth to find the cause of the pain
  • If the dentist finds a large cavity or a worn out filling, they may choose to restore the tooth with an inlay
  • The dentist will numb the tooth and remove the decayed dental tissue with a dental drill
  • They will use water to clean debris from the tooth
  • Next, they will prepare the tooth by slightly abrading the surfaces that will be in contact with the inlay
  • The dentist will take an impression of the tooth and send it to the dental lab where it will be used to fabricate the inlay

The dentist will cover the tooth with a temporary restoration and send the patient home to wait for the inlay. Once the inlay is created, the patient will return to the dentist’s office where the dentist will remove the temporary restoration and place the inlay in the tooth.

Inlays are used for larger cavities that cannot be repaired by a filling

Some cavities are too big to be sealed with regular dental fillings. In such a scenario, the dentist will choose to repair the tooth with a restoration that is solid and sturdier. This means the tooth will have reinforcement it needs to keep from caving in.

Inlays are used to replace worn out fillings

A dentist will recommend an inlay if their patient’s tooth has a loose or ineffective filling. When a filling stops working the way it is supposed to, it starts to damage the tooth. That is why a dentist will choose a tougher and more durable restoration. In other words, an inlay. A dental inlay will seal the tooth and reinforce it from the inside.

When to use a different restoration

An inlay is only used to repair a tooth whose chewing surface and sides are intact. A tooth that is missing parts of its outer surfaces needs much more than an inlay. If a moderate amount of the tooth is missing, the dentist will restore it with an onlay.

If a large part of the tooth is damaged, the dentist will use a crown instead.

What does the dentist have to say?

A dentist will tell you if an inlay is the best way to repair that tooth, but only after a dental exam. Go ahead and get a consultation to find out.

Request an appointment in our Forest Hills dentist office here:

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