If you have a cavity or have experienced decay, you might need an inlay, onlay or filling to complete the part of the tooth that is missing. These treatments are all made from a resin that your body is compatible with. We never use amalgam fillings because of the presence of mercury in them. In fact, we offer safe amalgam removal if you would like to replace your old fillings.

Why do I need fillings?

Bacteria create harmful acids from sugars that come from the food we eat. If food and plaque (the residue where bacteria reside) aren’t regularly cleaned away, they can build up and wear away at the tooth’s enamel. Eventually, you may find yourself with a painful cavity or hole in your tooth from the acid produced by the bacteria.

When this happens, the dentist will need to clean out the cavity and fill it, so bacteria cannot do more damage. Fillings restore the tooth to its original shape, so patients can function normally.  Cavities left untreated could cause the root pulp to get infected, causing pain, bleeding, abscesses, and even the loss of a tooth.

How do I get fillings?

The dentist will examine your teeth and take an x-ray to check if you have a cavity first. If you do need a filling, here’s what you can expect:

  1. Local anesthesia: Depending how deep your cavity is, your dentist may give you a shot of local anesthesia. Cavities that have reached past the dentin can be painful because they are so close to the pulp, where the nerves are.
  2. Cleaning: The dentist will thoroughly clean the cavity to make sure there are no bacteria left to cause harm. Sometimes, it might be necessary to drill into the cavity to make sure there’s no food debris or bacteria left.
  3. Filling: Once the teeth are completely clean, your tooth will be filled with safe, natural, and durable tooth-colored resin to seal away the cavity.

What are inlays and onlays?

Also known as “indirect fillings,” inlays and onlays are made outside the mouth and attached to the tooth after. They’re similar to crowns, but they don’t require quite as much enamel removal. Here’s what you can expect if you’re getting an inlay or onlay:

  1. Consultation: Inlays and onlays are preferable to crowns because they preserve the tooth’s natural structure.The dentist will discuss your options with you before treatment.
  2. Impressions: The dentist will create an impression of your tooth, so the inlay or onlay can be custom made to fit your tooth well.
  3. Temporary fillings: Unless your dentist has an in-house lab, it will take time to get the personalized restorations. In the meantime, the dentist will place a temporary filling to protect your tooth.
  4. Preparation: Once the restorations are sent back to your dentist’s office, your tooth will be prepared for them. The temporary fillings will be removed and the tooth will be cleaned.
  5. Bonding: The inlays or onlays will be attached with a special resin that hardens when exposed to a special light.

Dr. Erwin makes every effort to ensure his patients have a positive experience. Inlays, onlays, and fillings are nothing to be scared about. The procedures are relatively simple and painless. However, not getting cavities or tooth damage treated can have negative repercussions, so make an appointment with your dentist if something is wrong with your teeth.