Porcelain Inlays and Onlays
What are inlays and onlays?
Porcelain inlays and onlays are beautiful dental restorations that can fill larger holes than composite fillings while preserving more of your natural tooth than a porcelain crown. Inlays are used down between the cusps of your teeth. Onlays repair larger areas and can cover the tip or tips of your tooth. Cosmetic and neuromuscular dentists Dr. LeSueur and Dr. Dodaro work with five specialized labs to custom create porcelain restorations precisely matched to the color and shape of your natural teeth.
Benefits of Porcelain Inlays and Onlays
In the past, patients used to receive metal fillings. However, the Drs of Smiles team chooses to use porcelain inlays and onlays instead. This is because porcelain inlays and onlays offer many benefits in contrast to metal fillings including:
Preserving your tooth
Metal fillings contain a high percentage of mercury which expands and contracts with temperature changes (that’s why it’s used in thermometers). When you eat and drink hot and cold foods and beverages your filling actually changes size slightly, which over time can crack your tooth and let bacteria get inside it.
Porcelain inlays and onlays are created and hardened in a lab, so they are stable and strong. Porcleain does not expand or contract, so it will not damage your tooth. By being bonded to the tooth, it holds it together, pulling inward on the tooth’s periphery. This can strengthen the tooth and lengthen its life. Porcelain Inlays and onlays can fill significantly large areas of decay while preserving more of your natural tooth than using a crown.
Metal fillings can cause heat and cold sensitivity in your teeth, and aren’t always smooth around the edges. Porcelain will not make your teeth sensitive to heat and cold like metal-colored fillings can. Your inlays or onlays will be precisely crafted to fit your prepared tooth, so the fit seamlessly with no rough edges.
The shiny, silver color of metal fillings tarnishes and turns dark. This tarnish is not always confined to the filling itself – it can stain your tooth too. Even in the back of your mouth, metal fillings look like dark decayed teeth when you talk and laugh. Porcelain inlays and onlays are perfectly matched to the color of your tooth, so they won’t be visible or detract from the beauty of your smile. Porcelain reflects light in the same way as your tooth enamel, so it won’t look like a dead spot, like older tooth-colored materials often do. It will blend seamlessly with your tooth.
Dr. LeSueur and Dr. Dodaro will examine your teeth and overall dental health and recommend the most appropriate solution for you. Small holes can be filled with white composite fillings. If your tooth is very weak or the area of decay is too large for inlays or onlays, they may recommend a porcelain crown. Our dentists at Drs of Smiles do not offer silver amalgam fillings but can provide gold crowns by request.
The Inlay and Onlay Procedure
Since Dr. LeSueur and Dr. Dodaro work with specialized labs to customize your inlays and onlays it will take two appointments to place these restorations. First, our staff will remove the damaged or decayed section of the tooth. Then, we prepare the tooth for an impression. Those impressions are then sent to the lab for creation. In the meantime, a temporary sealant will be placed to protect the tooth.
At the second visit, Drs. LeSueur and Dodaro will remove the sealant. Then, check the inlay and onlay for fit. If the fit is ideal, we will bond the inlay or onlay to the tooth with a resin. Finally, the tooth is polished for a smooth finish.
Results of Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and onlays are strong, stable, and durable restoration options. Therefore, with proper care, they should last for a long time. Patients can care for inlays and onlays the same as they do their regular teeth with brushing and flossing. In addition, the Drs of Smiles staff recommends keeping up with their regular dental checkups.
“As a dental phobic, I have finally found a dentist and staff that I absolutely trust. I no longer dread or put off going to the dentist! To me, this is a miracle. Everyone is so friendly and professional at this office, I look forward to each visit. No matter what your issues, they will work with you.” Pennie G.
WHAT ARE THE ALTERNATIVES TO INLAYS AND ONLAYS?
Inlays and onlays are similar to crowns and fillings. For patients that need a filling, a white composite material is sculpted in your tooth and hardened. However, inlays are customized in a lab and can fill a larger area of the tooth. A filling is sculpted in your tooth from white composite material and hardened in one visit. Inlays are created in a lab and can fill a larger area.
An alternative to an onlay is a crown which covers the entire tooth. However, when possible, it is best to keep a majority of the natural tooth structure. This is done with an onlay since it is created in a lab to fit into the exact space that needs coverage.
What if I already have metal fillings?
Dr. LeSueur and Dr. Dodaro would be happy to replace your old fillings with beautiful porcelain inlays and onlays or white composite fillings, restoring the beauty of your smile and preserving the health of your teeth.