Fillings restore full health and functionality to a tooth effectively. Dental filling procedures are most commonly used to treat cavities, but they’re also used to repair teeth that have been worn down over time.
What is an indirect filling
Indirect fillings are similar to composite or tooth-colored fillings except they are made in a dental laboratory and require two visits before being placed.
Indirect fillings are considered when not enough tooth structure remains to support a filling but the tooth is not so severely damaged that it needs a crown.
During the first visit, decay or an old filling is removed.
An impression is taken to record the shape of the tooth being repaired and the teeth around it.
The impression is sent to a dental lab that will make the indirect filling.
A temporary filling (described next) is placed to protect the tooth while the restoration is being made.
During the second visit, the temporary filling is removed, and the dentist will check the fit of the indirect restoration. Provided the fit is acceptable, it will be permanently cemented into place.
There are two types of indirect fillings — inlays and onlays
Inlays are similar to fillings but the entire work lies within the cusps (bumps) on the chewing surface of the tooth.
Onlays are more extensive than inlays, covering one or more cusps. Onlays are sometimes called partial crowns.
Inlays and onlays are more durable and last much longer than traditional fillings — up to 30 years.
They can be made of tooth-colored composite resin, porcelain, or gold.
An onlay can be used to protect a weakened tooth because it can cover the top chewing surface and distribute the forces around the tooth like a crown.
Another type of inlay and onlay follow similar processes and procedures as the indirect, but the direct is made in the mouth and can be placed in one visit.
The type of inlay or onlay used depends on how much sound tooth structure remains and consideration of any cosmetic concerns.
Keep reading: Temporary Fillings