What is An Inlay and Is It Better than a Filling?

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The most common type of tooth decay that Beaverton Dentist Dr. Richard Barrett sees at his practice is decay between the back teeth.  In dental lingo we call this “Class II” decay and it is most commonly caused by lack of regular flossing or by flossing inadequately.

Historically, dentists have treated this type of decay with fillings.  Many years ago “silver amalgam” fillings were standard for this and today we are seeing mostly tooth colored composite fillings.

Drawbacks of Composite Fillings

Composite fillings are still the most common method to treat this situation, but it has many drawbacks.  Despite using the very best available materials and techniques, dentist in Beaverton Dr. Richard Barrett believes this type of treatment isn’t always the best option.  To place a filling, the tooth must be prepared and made to be free of decay.  Then, a band is placed around the tooth, the tooth is treated with an etchant and an adhesive.  Then, the filling is placed within the band in an uncured state and cured with a light.  This is where the drawbacks begin.  Firstly, the adhesive and the uncured filling material are very susceptible to moisture.  Trouble is, the mouth is a wet place.  Even with our best efforts and methods, keeping the area dry for an extended period of time is difficult to impossible.  So, with the best care, the filling is placed in a dried area and cured with a light so it hardens.  The curing process also adds trouble to the mix.  When we cure the composite, the material shrinks on a microscopic level and we know that the seam between the tooth and filling is often pulled open.  We can’t see it or feel it, but bacteria are so small this creates a spot for them to enter the area and begin the decay process all over again.  To offset the shrinkage, fillings are placed in layers which results in an increased risk of voids being incorporated into the material.  Clearly, fillings have their drawbacks.

At Barrett – We Use Inlays

Thankfully, Beaverton dentist Dr. Richard Barrett and his staff have a better way.  That way is called an inlay.  An inlay is a restoration that takes the place of a filling.  Rather than placing an uncured filling in the mouth and curing it…running the risk of incomplete cure, shrinkage, or voiding…a inlay is created outside of the mouth from a pre-cured solid block of material.  As a result, shrinkage and voiding is impossible.  Once fabricated, the inlay is cemented into place for a perfect fit.  Even better, because the material doesn’t have to cure in the mouth it can incorporate ceramic materials for far greater strength and longevity.  

Well, what’s the catch?  The catch for many years was inlays were lab fabricated.  So, inlays required gag inducing impressions, temporaries, and a second appointment.  However, this is no longer the case.  Today, with our digital systems we can prepare the tooth, take a digital scan, mill the inlay and cement in the same appointment.  The end result is a solid, perfectly fitting restoration which has far greater strength and longevity than that of a filling.  In every possible way, the inlay is the superior restoration.

Beaverton Dentist Dr. Richard Barrett and his staff at Barrett Family Dental are committed to always offering our patients the very best options available today.  Our goal is to help our patients achieve optimal whole body health in the most convenient way.  By utilizing modern techniques, systems, and materials we are proud to provide that to our patients