Inlays vs. fillings – which is better?
You might be familiar with fillings, you may have received a couple of them in your lifetime. Traditional fillings do their job in mending your cavities, but have you ever thought to explore all of your other options?
Chat to your cosmetic dentist in Southampton if you are frustrated by the shortcomings of regular fillings.
Why do we need fillings in the first place
Through neglect or damage caused by accident, your tooth is affected, and is either slowly decaying on the inside or is fractured.
An ordinary filling restores the tooth by removing its decaying parts, cleaning the surrounding area and replacing with a filling material. The purpose of the filling material is to rebuild the tooth the same shape and size it was before the cavity, as well as to fend off potentially harmful bacteria by closing the gap where your tooth was.
Signs that you might need a filling
- Persistent toothache
- Dark spots on your tooth
- A visible hole
- Your current filling is broken or dislodged
Comparing inlays and fillings
Inlays and fillings are much the same in that both fix cavities, but inlays offer more significant benefits that ordinary fillings do not.
- Materials used
For one, the latter is usually made from a metal known as amalgam. While long-lasting, the metal expands and contracts when it comes into contact with hot and cold substances, thus weakening the tooth and increasing its chances of cracking. With this type of filling, you have to be careful about what you put into your mouth.
On the other hand, the former is made from either porcelain, ceramic or composite resin. Composite resin, while known to have a shorter shelf life, is more forgiving on the tooth. Only dental impressions of the cavity are taken so that the filling covers the exact size and shape of the cavity. What does this mean exactly? That the healthy parts of the tooth unaffected by decay are not removed or compromised. The same cannot be said for amalgam fillings.
- Health and safety
Health and safety concerns have also arisen about using amalgam for fillings. While amalgam has been instrumental in repairing decaying teeth for over 150 years, some recent studies have shown that the metal emits mercury into the body, which has been linked, in some cases, to autoimmune diseases.
It is easy to spot the metal glint of a regular filling, which for some, is a huge turn-off.
In this day and age, people opt for restorative aids that are discreet, and so the advantage of inlays is that the material that they are made from is often barely visible.
As previously mentioned, amalgam expands and contracts while inlays do not. As a result, inlays are stronger and have less chance of failing. Their added strength might cost you more in expenses but are undoubtedly worth it long term.
- The extent of decay or injury
Inlays are often better suited to extensive damage or decay of a tooth, while ordinary fillings are fine to repair smaller cavities.
Do you need a filling? Know what type is best for you and your infected or fractured teeth. Your cosmetic dentist in Southampton will explain all of your choices to you so that you can make an informed decision based on your needs.