Dr. Lee and his dental team are dedicated to offering conservative dentistry services. That means we work with patients to find the treatment option that fully restores the form and function of their bite while preserving the maximum amount of natural tooth structure. Fillings are typically considered the most conservative treatment option. This restorative treatment is used to fill in lost dental structure following decay or minor damage. When more advanced treatments are needed, our team offers a number of solutions to preserve maximum dental structure and renew oral health. Contact us as soon as you experience signs of decay or damage in order to allow our team to provide the most conservative solutions.
Inlays & Onlays
In the past, when teeth were too damaged to be repaired with fillings, dental crowns, restorations that completely surround remaining tooth structure, were the go to solution, but today, there are intermediary options – inlays and onlays. Inlays are used to repair teeth that have decay or damage between the cusps, raised portions on the biting surfaces of teeth. If damage is too widespread or deep for a simple filling, the more durable inlay may be recommended. If patients have a chipped, broken, or decayed area that includes one or more cusps but does not extend over more than ¼ of the tooth, an onlay may be recommend. As the name suggests, these restorations lay on the top of the tooth, and are molded to restore the shape and structure.
If dental decay or damage is advanced to include the majority of the tooth, we may need to recommend the more advanced dental crown. These dental restorations fit completely over the top of the damaged teeth protecting and repairing them. We typically recommend dental crowns in the following situations:
To repair extensive decay or damage
To cosmetically improve the appearance of teeth
To protect and straighten teeth following root canal therapy
As part of dental implant or fixed bridge tooth replacement
For each of these restorations, our team uses only the highest quality materials, and we rely on dedicated and highly skilled crafts people in our dental labs to produce flawless inlays, onlays, and crowns. When placing inlays and onlays, we do not typically need to remove much healthy dental structure. These repair options fuse with tooth enamel to provide increased strength, but dental crowns absorb so much pressure from chewing and wear against opposing teeth that it is necessary to remove an adequate amount of existing structure to allow for the placement of a strong, durable crown. Regardless how much structure needs to be removed in preparation for the restoration, the creation and placement procedure for all three of these options is very similar.
Once the tooth is prepared, we capture bite impressions. These impressions show the dental lab what the prepared tooth looks like and how much additional structure is necessary to allow the tooth fit flawlessly into the natural bite. The impressions are sent to our lab, and over the course of one or more weeks, a custom solution is made. In the meantime, we place a temporary crown, inlay, or onlay to protect the prepared tooth. Once we receive the finished product, patients return to exchange their temporary for a custom crown, inlay, or onlay.