Ceramic fillings are dental fillings which are made of ceramic and cemented into the tooth. They are an excellent alternative to composite fillings, as ceramics have many advantages over composite materials.
A ceramic filling is also called a ceramic inlay because it is placed in the tooth and cemented to stay in place. Materials such as thin flowing resin or cement are used to connect the ceramic inlay with the tooth.
Ceramic filling materials
There are various ceramic materials which can be used for an inlay. All have advantages and disadvantages and are individually suitable as tooth replacements.
Glass ceramic and feldspar ceramic
These two dental ceramics are silicate ceramics and have similar properties. Both glass-ceramics and feldspar ceramics are great in terms of aesthetics can also be used for veneers.
The stability of these ceramics is acceptable. If greater forces are applied, the ceramic inlay may fracture. Therefore, these types of inlays should be bonded with a composite resin.
The biocompatibility of these materials is very good.
The following materials are most commonly used for ceramic inlays.
This is a framework made of silicate ceramic, which is infiltrated with composite. Hybrid ceramics show high stability and elasticity, absorbing cracks and fractures well.
These inlays should be bonded with a composite resin.
The biocompatibility of the materials is good.
Zirconium oxide is a non-porous high-performance ceramic from which ceramic implants are also made. Due to the addition of various oxides, strong forces can be buffered, which prevents cracks from spreading. Therefore, zirconia can withstand very high forces without breaking.
In the laboratory, the milled zirconia blank must be fired (sintered) at about 1200 degrees Celsius, which shrinks it by about 20-30% and gives it its sturdyness.
Due to the firing process and high stability, zirconia does not dissolve and is neutral on the body. The biocompatiblity is therefore excellent.
Zirconia inlays can be bonded using a composite or cement. The material used for bonding should always be selected individually.
Thanks to our in-house dental laboratory, we can produce high-quality ceramic inlays within one treatment.
You are welcome to contact us at any time.
Procedure at the dentist
Ceramic inlays are highly recommended in the following situations:
- After amalgam removal
- if an old composite filling or an old gold inlay is no longer airtight and should be renewed
- in the case of caries that requires treatment
At first, the amalgam fillings or composite fillings and caries are removed. The entire maxilla and mandible, including the defects, are photographed with an intraoral scanner. This way, a 3D view of the mouth can be digitally generated and sent to the dental laboratory.
Using an intraoral scanner, there is no need for unpleasant impressions made with trays and paste.
Production of ceramic fillings
Production of inlays in a dental laboratory provides the highest precision and the best quality of a ceramic filling.
The dental technician can produce individual dental models from plaster or composite and precisely adjust the inlays.
Furthermore, the material can be additionally fired and further refined, which makes the material of higher quality.
The dental technician has many options in terms of aesthetics and can produce ceramic inlays that blend in ideally with all other teeth.
CEREC stands for CEramic REConstruction. The intraoral scan is processed on a computer and sent to a milling machine. The milling machine grinds out the matching ceramic filling from a ceramic block.
A major advantage of CEREC is the time saved for both patient and dentist.
However, ceramic inlays made in a dental laboratory show a better fit and precision.
Chairside production describes the production of ceramic prosthesis directly in the dental practice and in the same session. This enables patients who have to travel a long way to be treated and receive high-quality ceramic inlays in a single treatment.
Chairside production is possible with the help of CEREC or a in-house dental laboratory.
Depending on the size of the defect and the choice of material, approximately 1 hour can be calculated per ceramic inlay.
Advantages of ceramic fillings
- Ceramic fillings have a high durability and stability. Provided that patients have a good bacterial flora, ceramic fillings can also last a lifetime.
- Since the filling is ground and adjusted outside of the mouth, the shape can be formed according to the anatomical conditions. This allows tooth contacts to be ideally adjusted so that no food gets stuck between the teeth.
- Biological compatibility is best with ceramic inlay.
Disadvantages of ceramic fillings
- For the correct fit of a ceramic filling, it is necessary to grind off a little more substance from the tooth.
- Ceramic inlays are more complex to manufacture and process, resulting in higher costs.
Cost of ceramic inlays
Generally, the cost depends on the material used and the extent of the tooth defect.
Ceramic fillings made using the CEREC procedure cost approximately CHF 1000.
Laboratory-made ceramic inlays range from approx. 1200 CHF to 1600 CHF.
Alternatives to ceramic fillings
Fillings made of composite have proven to work well and are a good option for restoring teeth. The fillings have a soft consistency at the beginning and are inserted and then modeled accordinly by the dentist. After that, they are cured with a UV lamp, which gives the composite fillings the final hardness.
Compared to a ceramic filling, composite fillings have disadvantages in terms of longevity and biocompatibility.
In the case of large defects in the tooth, the correct anatomical tooth shape can only be restored to a limited extent. As a result, food can get stuck between the teeth. In such cases, ceramic inlays are the better choice.
Gold fillings / gold inlays
Gold fillings were common and placed frequently in the past. These have a high durability and stability.
Due to various disadvantages, they are now placed less often:
- Gold inlays have an unnatural, gold-colored aesthetic and tend to be rejected by patients.
- Gold fillings are a health concern. The gold consists of various metals, which enter the body through corrosion and abrasion
- Due to constantly rising gold prices, gold fillings are relatively expensive.
Amalgam fillings are still preferred by many dentists because they are very durable and easy for the dentist to place.
However, there are many disadvantages:
- Amalgam consists of 50% mercury and is very harmful to health.
- Amalgam is silvery and does not look aesthetic.
Especially the health aspect speaks against having amalgam fillings placed. Please read more about amalgam removal.
FAQ about ceramic inlays
What options are there for bonding and cementing inlays?
Ceramic inlays can be bonded with a resin or cemented with a cement. Which method is used depends on the type of ceramic and the shape of the tooth defect.
While cementing the inlay, the dentist should ensure that no moisture gets to the materials used, as they are sensitive to moisture.
We pay attention to the compatibility and durability of the materials used.
How long does it take to make ceramic inlays
Ceramic inlays can be produced and placed in one appointment. The production time is approx. 30 minutes to 1 hour per inlay, depending on the process and material. While the inlays are made, the patient can have a break.
Can ceramic inlays also be placed in the anterior (front) region?
Ceramic inlays can also be used for restoring incisors and canines. If the ceramic restoration covers the entire front surface of anterior teeth, it is called veneers.
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