Dental inlays are a type of dental prosthesis that are designed and fabricated in a laboratory to cover a broken or missing part of a damaged natural tooth. These veneers are used to maintain the harmony of the smile and the functionality of the teeth, for this reason they have to be made to measure and with resistant, esthetic and biocompatible materials.
What are the main causes of tooth loss?
Dental inlays are indicated for patients who have lost part of a tooth. The main causes of this loss are:
- Caries: Caries are bacteria that begin by affecting the dental enamel and, if not treated in time, continue to affect the deeper dental layers (dentin and dental pulp). If the erosion is small, we can remove the cavity and cover the lost part with composite, a resin material. If the erosion is greater, and the specialist considers that the resin coating may compromise dental stability, he will recommend an inlay, since it is made of a harder and more resistant material.
- Wear due to bruxism: Most people brux, and this pathology is accentuated at night, affecting the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and wearing down the dental layers. In these cases, inlays are indicated for posterior pieces that have suffered wear, recovering the vertical dimension of the tooth, restoring its function and avoiding exposing the inner layers of the teeth, which are more fragile and can more easily suffer caries, breakage or sensitivity. A bruxism treatment is also one of the best options to prevent tooth loss.
- Breakage or fissure: Dental breaks or fissures can be caused by trauma, incorrect restoration choices or in cases of untreated worn teeth. Hence the importance of seeing a specialist in dental restoration to cover the erosion with the most suitable restoration. In many of these cases, the most durable and least invasive solution will be dental inlays.
Differences between dental inlays and crowns
Dental crowns cover the entire tooth and are indicated for restoring teeth that have suffered severe erosion and where little natural structure remains. Before placing them, the tooth will be prepared in the form of a die, to scan the area to be treated in order to design and adhere the crown with a special cement. In this way we are able to restore the functionality and esthetics of the entire tooth.
On the other hand, dental inlays only cover the eroded part of the tooth, therefore, the dental preparation will be minimal. The specialist will prepare the base of the damaged tooth, leaving it uniform, and then scan the missing part and design the fragment that will cover it. Our dental restoration experts will always recommend this option as far as possible, thus preserving as much of the natural tooth structure as possible and being faithful to the principle of minimal dental invasion.
Types of dental inlays and onlays according to their material
Dental inlays can be fabricated from various materials:
Porcelain dental inlays
It is the most recommended material, as it is resistant, biocompatible and gives the tooth a natural appearance thanks to its translucency. In our clinic we use e-max disilicate, currently the ceramic that provides the best balance between esthetics and resistance.
Dental amalgam inlays and onlays
Metal inlays are the hardest, but the least elastic, esthetic and biocompatible. In our clinic we not only do not recommend the use of this material but we remove them to cover them with disilicate and thus recover the white esthetics of the smile.
Composite dental inlays
Dental composite inlays are esthetic and elastic, but they wear faster than other materials. They will be used in specific cases in which the dental erosion is not very large.
How are dental inlays and onlays placed?
In our clinic we place the inlays in two sessions:
In the first session we will prepare the eroded dental bases, leaving them uniform with a Dentsply Sirona composite, the most esthetic and resistant. Once they are uniform, we will scan the dental pieces to be treated in order to design the inlays in our 3D software and manufacture them in our dental milling machine. In our facilities we have CEREC technology, a closed circuit that allows us to elaborate them in a faster, more precise and safer way: The doctor can supervise the dental design on the same day.
The scanning process is simple and we avoid the traditional system of measurements with the uncomfortable pastes. A prosthetic technician will give them the final finish to mimic the anatomy and dental esthetics of a natural tooth.
In the second consultation our specialist in restoration and esthetics will place the ceramic fragments and check the anatomy, color and dental occlusion, thus restoring esthetics and function to our patients.
How long does a dental inlay last?
If the procedure is performed by a dentist specializing in dental restoration and esthetics and coordinated with an expert laboratory technician, the dental veneer provided by dental inlays is very strong, durable and will require no different maintenance than any other tooth.
Daily dental hygiene habits, such as a dental hygiene correct brushing after meals and flossing, as well as regular professional cleanings, are all that is needed to keep dental inlays and onlays in good condition and prevent caries from seeping between the natural tooth material and the bonded ceramic.