Bonded fillings are used to repair minor defects for small areas of decay using "plastic fillings". Plastic filling material is not an everyday plastic but a scientific formulation of a number of compounds. This produces a range of coloured white materials which match almost everybody's teeth. These materials are chemically adhered to the tooth.
In the past fillings directly bonded to the tooth were set with a blue light. Previously this was quite extensive work involving a number of layers of material being set in sequence with the light.
In our practice we have the latest technology. This so called plasmagenic light source is again a harmless blue light but it sets quite thick sections of material within seconds. The result is less time in the dentist's chair and less risk of the filling becoming contaminated with saliva while setting.
Bonded fillings are suitable for small and big restorations. They are not suitable where biting forces are high and there is little of the tooth left. Initially bonded fillings can have extremely good appearance but they are subject to staining with time. In areas where strength and appearance is important then veneers or inlays are longer term alternatives.
An inlay is a filling usually constructed outside of the mouth. A mould is taken of the tooth after it has been prepared. Normally inlays are used for larger cavities and where the dentist feels that a conventional filling will not last. Inlays can be constructed in gold or tooth coloured ceramics. They are generally a long-term solution where strength is a concern.
Gold or ceramic
Gold inlays have been used for many years. They are very strong and long lasting. Some patients do not like the appearance of gold in their mouth, some do, and this is a personal preference. The advantages of gold are that it is easy to work accurately with and it is predictable in casting. It has also withstood the test of time over many decades. Many authorities consider that gold is still the best dental restorative material overall.
Ceramic and porcelain inlays are a more recent dental technology. These are again very strong and allow for the cast inlay to be matched in colour to the natural tooth substance. They fit very accurately and are bonded to the natural tooth. This helps to improve the strength where the natural tooth may be weakened.
We believe in an ideal world ceramic and gold inlays are usually the treatment of choice in back teeth where crowns are not required.