Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Is a dental inlay like a filling?"
What's the difference between the two? Do they both deal with cavities?
A dental inlay is essentially the same thing as a filling. There are various types of fillings that can be used when repairing a defect created when removing caries (also known as cavities). The amount and area of tooth being filled basically determines whether it is an inlay or an onlay restoration.
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The diseased portion of the tooth is usually drilled out down to the healthy non-diseases tooth. The defect that is created in the process is then repaired by putting in a "filling. An inlay refers to a filling that fills in a concave cavity in the tooth, but does not extend to and around the borders of the tooth (aka the cusps). These are referred to as onlays. Many different materials can be used as "fillings" or inlays (metals such as gold, silver, platinum or more frequently porcelain, which has the advantage of matching the natural white color of your native teeth). It is very important to maintain good oral hygiene and health as it has been shown to relate to overall health, not to mention, bad oral (gum, tooth, etc) disease can cause complications such as infections that can spread to other parts of your body such as your heart. If cavities are found early, a dentist should remove the diseased area of the tooth and repair it with a filling (inlay or onlay if it is small). I highly recommend you see a dentist for an annual cleaning and exam.
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