When your tooth has a crack or cavity, the cosmetic dentistry specialist will want to use a restoration to fix the problem. Restorations involve everything from fillings to dental crowns. There are two categories of restorations: indirect and direct. What is an indirect restoration, what types are available, and how can these pieces help your general or family dentist save your tooth?
An indirect restoration requires more than one dental appointment so that the dentist can mold your teeth and craft the perfect restoration. Advantages to this method include the ability to correct a wider range of problems than the direct restorations, which are applied in one office visit to mostly easy to treat issues.
Indirect restorations are often the only choice when treating a tooth that takes on a lot of bite force such as a molar. That's because the indirect materials and shapes tend to have a higher durability than the direct restorations.
Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and onlays are both types of indirect restoration that can essentially take over the role of a filling when the cavity is larger and requires more treatment. Both can come crafted in a variety of materials that include the natural looking porcelain and the highly durable metal amalgam.
The main difference is that the inlay sits down into the tooth between the cusps while the only covers the cusps but doesn't extend far down the sides of the tooth. The former works best when the tooth has a localized but large cavity hole that needs covering while the latter can cover more damage including a chipped cusp.
Metal inlays or onlays should be used on molars and other grinding teeth that need repairs. Using a porcelain restoration on a molar will simply lead to the fragile material cracking. You can opt to use porcelain restorations on teeth towards the front of your mouth where cosmetic appearance has more weight than structural integrity.
A dental crown looks like an extended onlay. The crown covers the entire outside of the natural tooth to cover large amounts of damage, reinforce root canal treatment, or simply to add more strength and stability to the tooth.
As was the case with inlays and onlays, the metal crowns work better on grinding teeth. But there are also metal-backed porcelain crowns that combine strength and a natural look that can suit both teeth in the back and the front of the mouth.
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