Materials Options: An Overview

When a natural tooth undergoes extensive damage, it cannot be successfully restored for the long term with a “regular filling" (the one placed by the dentist in a single office appointment). Materials constructed and processed in a laboratory can be contoured exactly to the contours and shape desired, are stronger and will last longer. All materials for cast restorations have advantages and disadvantages.  Foundations or Build-ups prior to restoration with crowns is often necessary. Link to the page of Amalgam for more information on materials for foundations/build-ups. Link to the page for Composite Resins for more information on those materials. The following is a summary of the materials that can be used for inlays, onlays, crowns and bridges.

Partial Coverage Restorations:  Inlays and Onlays

Partial coverage restorations are indicated when there is sound remaining tooth structure that does not need to be included in the preparation. Advantages of an inlay or onlay include less drilling than for a full coverage crown. Because of esthetics and concern over potential allergic reactions to metal, dentistry is and has been moving away from any restorations that have metal in them.

Full Coverage Restorations:  Crowns and Bridges

Full coverage restorations are indicated when the entire remaining tooth structure needs protection or is vulnerable to fracture. A full coverage crown requires more preparation than an inlay or onlay.

All the above take at least two appointments to finish. Tooth preparation, impressions, and temporary crown, bridge, or inlay/onlay will be done at the first appointment.  Permanent cementation will take place during the second appointment.  Because of the highly technical nature of the process and our exacting standards, we may need to make more than one impression. If we detect an irregularity with the returned laboratory restoration, we will take a new impression and redo the onlay or crown.

We will recommend the best material to meet your specific needs and answer any questions you have. Longevity of any of the restorations depends on the quality of the materials (and we only use the best), the technical skills in construction and placement (and we provide the best service possible), and what you do to and with the restorations once they are in your mouth. Clenching and grinding habits will significantly shorten the useful life of any restoration placed. What can break your natural tooth can break any restoration. Your oral self-care will affect the length of service of the restoration. You will need regular dental examinations and hygiene maintenance (cleaning) at intervals determined by your particular oral health requirements. A rule of thumb is that the more restorations you have in your mouth, the more care you (and they) will need. Any problem that begins can be discovered and corrected when it is small: with regular dental examinations, you can protect your investment.

For Chairside Restorations go to: Amalgams or Composite Resins for more information.

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