What is an “Indirect” or “Lab Made” Filling?

You’ve heard of dental fillings, but have you ever heard of indirect or lab made fillings? If you haven’t, that’s ok. They’re not something that a lot of dentists offer. However, these unique restorations hold a special place in restorative dentistry and Dr. Yazdan offers them at our Newport Beach dental office!

About Three-Quarter Crowns

Indirect fillings are frequently referred to as “three-quarter crowns”. That’s because they cover almost as much as a dental crown does, but a large portion of your tooth is still uncovered. The porcelain inlay/onlay may not cover exactly 3/4 of your tooth, but it’s fairly close to it.

Bottom line, these lab made fillings help you maximize the amount of tooth structure that you’re able to preserve. Rather than jump straight from a filling to a crown, porcelain onlays and inlays offer a good go-between. They repair larger areas of tooth damage without compromising the structures that are left.

Types of Three-Quarter Crowns

The two types of indirect fillings are porcelain onlays and porcelain inlays. Although they’re a lot like one another in the way they’re prepped and designed, the parts of your teeth they treat are different. For instance, onlays cover the cusps (pointed edges) of your back teeth, while inlays fill in the deeper grooves in the biting surfaces. One goes more over and around, while the other is inside.

It’s easy to get caught up in the difference between inlays and onlays, but ultimately, they provide a lot of the same advantages and involve nearly identical treatment processes.

Advantages of Porcelain Onlays, Inlays

  • Better reinforcement than a large filling
  • More conservative than a crown
  • Lab designed for optimal fit
  • Solid structure that’s more resistant to biting forces
  • Crafted from porcelain that’s matched to your teeth
  • Extends the overall lifespan of your tooth

When to Consider Three-Quarter Crowns

A three-quarter crown/inlay/onlay is recommended when your tooth has too large of a cavity to fill. Putting a filling in it would only strain the surrounding tooth structure, causing it to eventually give out when you’re biting down. Or, if you had a cusp break off of your tooth but the rest of the tooth is just fine.

While a lot of Newport Beach dentists would move from a filling to a crown, three-quarter crowns are more conservative for your teeth. You’re able to only restore the portion that’s damaged instead of additional tooth structure. Yes, you could always get a crown if you wanted to, but it would be a bit excessive if you still have plenty of intact tooth structure. 

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The Treatment: What to Expect

If you’ve ever gotten a crown, the treatment process for a porcelain onlay/inlay is almost identical—except for the way the tooth is prepped.

Usually a two-visit process is involved. At the first visit, we’ll gently numb your tooth to prevent any type of sensitivity or irritation. The tooth is isolated and then we remove the damaged portions. Such as areas of decay or fractured enamel. Next, all of the underlying tooth structures are prepped and we take an impression. This mold is what we’ll give to our lab, where your indirect filling is crafted by hand. The reason why it’s sometimes called an indirect filling is because it’s not “made” inside of your mouth.

In the meantime, we’ll place a temporary filling or crown on your tooth to protect it while the permanent restoration is being made. You’ll only need to wear it for a couple of weeks; in the meantime, try not to bite or chew on that side of your mouth.

About two weeks later, your permanent restoration will be ready to try in. You’ll come back to the office and we’ll remove the temporary one. Sometimes numbing is needed, other times it isn’t. We can let you know ahead of time. Next, the permanent porcelain onlay/inlay is cemented into place. Once it’s installed, it’s as if your tooth is completely whole again.

Caring for Porcelain Onlays/Inlays

Everyday maintenance with a three-quarter crown is the same as caring for a traditional full-coverage crown or filling. You’ll want to brush and floss around that tooth daily. No, flossing won’t pull it off of your tooth. But not flossing could lead to new areas of decay around the edges of your new restoration. Clean it thoroughly twice a day and you’ll be smiling for years to come! 

Porcelain Inlays and Onlays in Newport Beach

Are you looking for a Newport Beach dentist who offers porcelain inlays and onlays (three-quarter crowns)? Then it’s time to visit The Center For Restorative & Cosmetic Dentistry. Dr. Desiree Yazdan is one of the leading cosmetic and restorative dentistry providers in the area, offering this little-know service to our patients who qualify.

Find out if a three-quarter crown is right for you. Contact our office today to reserve your next appointment.

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