Dental fillings are used to treat a cavity. The decayed portion of the tooth is removed and the dental filling is then used to replace that part of the tooth.
Fillings are also used to repair cracked or broken teeth and teeth that have been worn down.
Composite fillings are made of a material known as composite resin. It is a tooth coloured and metal free filling material. It forms a micro mechanical bond to tooth structure which results in strong adhesion to the tooth. This allows for the strength and integrity of the tooth to be restored once it has been filled. Composite resin also blends in naturally with teeth and comes in a wide range of shades, allowing for a close match to the existing tooth colour.
Dental amalgam is formed from a mixture of liquid mercury and a metal alloy made of mainly copper, tin and silver particles. They are durable and can withstand strong chewing forces. However, the use of amalgam as a dental restorative material has been decreasing since the development of alternative materials like dental composites.
At our clinic, we do not use amalgam because we want to reduce mercury exposure to our patients and staff. We also want to keep environmental mercury emissions to a minimum.
Unlike dental fillings that are placed directly in the mouth, inlays and onlays are indirect restorations, meaning that they are fabricated outside the mouth first, then delivered to the tooth and cemented in place.
When tooth decay or fracture is so extensive that a direct restoration would compromise the structural integrity of the restored tooth or provide substandard opposition to biting forces, an inlay or onlay is used instead.
They are made of either indirect composite resin, ceramic or metals such as gold.
Composite fillings are more prone to wear and tear from biting forces over the long term. Over time, composite fillings shrink in size causing marginal leakage to occur around the filling, leading to secondary decay and eventually the need to replace the filling. Inlays and onlays do not shrink because they are made as a solid piece of ceramic or metal. Furthermore, inlays and onlays provide greater structural support for the tooth, particularly if it has been undermined by large decay or cracks.
An inlay is embedded in between the cusps of the tooth, while an onlay extends to cover one or more cusps. Onlays are sometimes referred to as partial crowns.
Inlays and onlays can be done within a single day at our clinic with our CAD/CAM system.