What Are Dental Fillings Used For?


Dental fillings, whether direct or indirect, involve removing some tooth structure and replacing it with a filling material. Most people are familiar with the use of fillings for cavities, but fillings also are used for teeth that have been cracked or worn down. Below is a look at how fillings are used in these cases.

Fillings for Cavities

When a tooth has a cavity, the decayed area must be removed completely to prevent the decay from spreading after treatment. Removal of tooth structure is also done to ensure a durable, long-lasting result. Even decay along the gum line can usually be drilled and filled.

Fillings for Cracked or Worn Teeth

Teeth that have cracks or wear, such as from teeth grinding, may require fillings for cosmetic purposes, to prevent sensitivity, or to block decay from developing. A variable amount of tooth structure may be removed to make way for the filling material.

Metal fillings are still common, but tooth-colored fillings are now more often chosen for their cosmetic benefits and lack of mercury. With proper care, fillings can last for more than a decade. You can contact our San Francisco dentist to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we use dental fillings.

What Are Dental Fillings Used For?

How are Inlays and Onlays Used to Restore Teeth?

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Inlays and onlays mimic the process of crowns but provide a non-invasive advantage. Inlays and onlays repair existing tooth structure, rather than replace it. But they’re also used to replace old or damaged fillings, so the term “indirect fillings” is sometimes used to describe them.

Typically you will need either an inlay or an onlay, as their functions are redundant if placed together. Here are some examples for both:



If you have decay in the tooth lining or between the cusps, inlays are placed in these gaps. This is more like a dental filling function, except inlays are distinctly preferable to fillings because the choice of materials is superior. Inlays also offer greater protection against decay and occlusal forces.



If your decay extends throughout the biting surface, an onlay fits within the grooves but also covers the cusps.  Onlays also provide excellent restoration of fractured teeth. Again, preserving the existing tooth structure is the primary benefit. A crown would involve tearing out the damaged cusps, while an onlay is simply inserted over them.

For more about the restorative uses of inlays and onlays, ask your Beverly Hills dentist.

How are Inlays and Onlays Used to Restore Teeth?

Restoration Options for Chipped Teeth

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A tooth can be chipped from biting down on something hard or as a result of an impact. The chip might feel rough against your cheek or tongue, but the damage might not be severe enough to cause pain. However, without the right chipped tooth treatment, a chip can lead to more serious problems, including cracks, decay, and infection. We can help you find the best treatment for your chipped tooth and protect your smile. Treatment includes:


  • Enamel contouring, which can be a great option for smoothing out minor chips and eliminating small rough spots
  • Dental bonding, which uses tooth-colored composite materials to restore small areas of damage
  • Dental filling, which might be necessary if the damaged area is larger


If the damage is more severe, we may recommend an inlay, onlay, or dental crown. These restorations cover a more significant area of the tooth and can protect the tooth better if it has been cracked, fractured, or if a cusp has been broken.


In most cases, a chipped tooth can be repaired in a single appointment, and you can use your tooth as soon as you leave our office. Call us to schedule your appointment with our expert in emergency dentistry in LA.

Restoration Options for Chipped Teeth

Options for Restoring Lost Teeth

When confronted with a lost tooth, there are two main options for restoring it. Dental bridges and dental implants are the two most common procedures. In the case of losing all of your teeth, dentures or implant-supported dentures are the main options.

For a single tooth, a dental bridge literally bridges the gap that is created by the missing tooth. In order to place a bridge, the two teeth that surround the missing tooth need to be filed down so that they can act as abutments and be fit with crowns. In between the crowns is the pontic, which is the prosthetic tooth that will replace the missing tooth. Dental implants do not require any collateral damage to surrounding teeth. An implant is a titanium post that is placed directly into the bone below where the missing tooth was located. Once the implant has fused with your jawbone, it is fit with a crown.

Dentures are a common option for replacing all of your teeth. Many patients find dentures to be uncomfortable for eating and speaking. They also do not like how easy it can be for them to fall out. That is why there are also dentures that can be supported by dental implants. Dentures that are supported by dental implants can either take the form of a fixed bridge or a removable overdenture. Either way, the implants provide the dentures with stability and support.

Contact our restorative dentist in San Fernando Valley if you are looking to restore any teeth that you may have lost.

Options for Restoring Lost Teeth