Porcelain 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. 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.
Differences between metal and tooth colored fillings
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 dentist do not offer silver amalgam fillings but provide gold crowns if you request them.
Porcelain Inlays and Onlays Questions
What are inlays and onlays?
Inlays and onlays are a lot like fillings, but they are crafted and hardened in a lab to precisely match the color and shape of your prepared tooth. Inlays are used down between the cusps of your teeth. Onlays repair larger areas and can cover the tip or tips of your tooth.
What are the alternatives to inlays and onlays?
Very small holes can be filled with white composite fillings. Very large areas of decay or teeth that are too weak for inlays or onlays can be repaired with a porcelain crown.
What is the difference between an inlay and a filling?
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. They do require a second visit for placement.
What is the difference between an onlay and a crown?
Like a crown, an onlay be used to repair a large area of decay and strengthen a weak tooth, but it preserves more of your natural tooth. A crown covers your entire tooth.
Why not use metal fillings instead?
Porcelain has many advantages of silver amalgam.
- Tarnish and can stain your teeth
- Expand and contract, and can even crack your tooth
- Can become loose and allow decay under the filling
- Look like dark areas of decay when you talk and laugh
- Cause painful sensitivity to hot and cold foods and beverages
Porcelain inlays and onlays:
- Strong and stable – do not expand and contract
- Strengthen your tooth
- Do not conduct heat and cold, so no sensitivity
- Are resistant to staining
- Blend seamlessly with your natural teeth – you can’t see them!
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.