The area of dental practice concerned with the prevention and treatment of defects in tooth enamel and dentin is generally referred to as operative dentistry. Since many patients need treatment that is provided by operative dentistry, this is where most dental assistants are assigned. Operative dentistry includes the management and restoration of carious or fractured teeth with metallic and nonmetallic dental materials. These materials are usually amalgam, composite resins, or glass ionomer restorations.
Operative dentistry should not be confused with oral surgery. Please ask your Coquitlam dentist at Sunrise Dental Clinic for more information on operative dentistry.
What are fillings, inlays, and onlays?
When most people think of a “filling,” they imagine a substance—either metal or plastic—that is placed directly in a tooth’s cavity, carved or molded to re-create the original shape of the tooth, and then allowed to harden. And indeed, the procedure must also help relieve the pain associated with the cavity. In fact, these direct restorations, though by and large the most common type due to their lower cost, are only one half of the equation.
Indirect fillings used to be more popular when gold and ivory were the principal dental materials. Most dentists today prefer the superior strength and aesthetics of today’s laboratory-produced porcelain restorations in the form of crowns, veneers, inlays, and onlays to amalgam or direct resin composites, particularly when a cavity is large or a tooth is structurally weak.
A more costly and less common type of “filling” is the indirect restoration. These restorations are justifiable because they are more durable and also more pleasing to the eye. Indirect fillings are made with care in a dental laboratory and are known as inlays and onlays.