What is conservative dentistry? Why does it matter? The benefits of tooth-preserving inlays and onlays

At Flower Mound Dental, Dr. William E. Wyatt, Jr. takes pride in rebuilding teeth in a way that supports the most natural appearance, feel in the mouth, and function. Our team also serves North Texas with conservative techniques. This approach to rebuilding deteriorated or lost tooth structure preserves natural tissues. Patients appreciate that the synthetic materials introduced to the tooth look and feel indistinguishable from natural, unaltered tooth structures. 

Dental inlays and onlays are versatile, conservative treatments. Due to how the materials are integrated with natural tissues, they ensure the strongest bond to the tooth. The strength of a broken, decayed, or otherwise injured tooth is achieved and sustained. The tooth is no longer vulnerable to breakage or further damage. 

How inlays, onlays work 

Each tooth is a sum of its parts. Unlike the front teeth, the back pre-molars and molars feature a chewing surface, grooves, and high points (or “cusps”). To correct damage to the back “chewing” teeth, we may recommend dental inlays or onlays fashioned from toothlike materials such as dental composite or ceramic. Gold is also unparalleled in strength and may be appropriate for molars, which withstand considerable forces from behaviors such as grinding down chewy foods. 

Inlays are generally recommended for less extensive damage. If a patient’s damaged tooth still has intact and healthy cusps, the inlay may be placed within those tips to restore the chewing surface to health and to restore its structural integrity. 

Onlays are considered to be a step up in terms of “coverage” for teeth with greater damage. They are positioned mainly to rebuild at least one damaged cusp. 

Both options may be well-suited to patients with big or worn fillings. They also represent conservative alternatives to full dental crowns. The dental crown is appropriate when none of a tooth’s cusps are intact. The crown fits on top of the natural tooth after damage has been cleared from it (and the tooth has been reshaped). 

To find out more about each of these restorative options, call Flower Mound Dental at (972) 351-8555 with questions or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Wyatt.