Your regularly scheduled check-up is often referred to as a “cleaning”, but there is much more to it than that! The technical term is oral prophylaxis, which means prevention of oral disease. One way to prevent oral disease is to remove harmful plaque and tartar (calculus) both above and below the gum line. You may also be given special instructions on brushing or flossing to keep clean the areas where we found significant buildup. That is the familiar “cleaning” part of your checkup.
White fillings are done most all of the time in our office. They are an attractive, durable alternative to silver (amalgam) fillings. White fillings are made of a strong composite resin that is matched to the surrounding tooth color.
There are times when the damage done to a tooth by decay is too extensive to be treated with a simple filling, yet not significant enough to need a full-coverage crown. In these cases, the best option for restoring the tooth may be an inlay or onlay.
Both inlays and onlays are considered “indirect” fillings, meaning that they are fabricated outside the mouth (usually by a dental laboratory) and then bonded to the tooth by the dentist. This is in contrast to a “direct” filling, which is applied directly to the cavity by the dentist in one office visit.
An indirect filling is considered an “inlay” when it fits within the little points or “cusps” of a back (premolar or molar) tooth. It is an “onlay” if it covers one or more of these cusps. Either way, the procedure for placing an inlay or onlay is the same.