In the past, cavities could only be treated with unsightly metal fillings that are alloys for silver and mercury. These fillings, especially when close to the front of the mouth, are highly noticeable and unaesthetic. Sometimes, the filling is so large that it causes discolouration of the entire tooth. These fillings (or restorations) often weaken teeth due to the large amount of the original tooth that has to be removed. Also there is a risk of Mercury poisoning that is used in the filling. Modern day research and development has increasingly turned to tooth coloured or composite fillings as a strong, safer and more natural looking alternative. Composite fillings utilise a soft white plastic substance that is hardened with a blue light.
Replacing large fillings in back teeth often requires stronger, more precisely contoured restorations. These are called inlays or onlays depending on whether they are being placed inside the tooth or on its outer surface. These restorations need to be custom-made at an off-site dental lab; therefore, two visits may be required. Once the dental office receives the custom inlay or onlay, the patient returns to the dentist’s office, where the restorations are bonded into place.
Onlays protect teeth similarly to crowns, but conserve more natural tooth structure. Onlays should provide decades of service. We have restored beauty and function to the teeth of so many of patients through the placement of custom-crafted inlays and onlays.