Porcelain Inlays and Onlays
What exactly are onlays and inlays?
Inlays and onlays are custom-made porcelain or ceramic fillings used to replace old or broken fillings or when the cavity is too large to be restored by a regular filling. Onlays protect teeth like crowns but conserve more natural, healthy tooth structure. Onlays are sometimes called "partial" or "conservative" crowns. Our office has performed thousands of successful inlay and onlay procedures. Using our state of the art CEREC technology, this is all possible in 1 appointment.
How do inlays differ from onlays?
Simply, an inlay is smaller version of an onlay. As its name states, it lies within the cusps of a tooth (the small bumps on the top tooth surface). Inlays are used to fill smaller cavities. An onlay extends over the biting surface or top of one or more cusps, filling a larger cavity and offering the tooth its needed protection.
Tooth enamel and dental porcelain are both translucent and react with light in similar ways. When natural light hits the porcelain, it is reflected back off the dental cement used to attach it to the tooth. In both cases, the result is the pearly-white color we associate with healthy teeth. These porcelain fillings cannot be seen when you smile or laugh. Only our doctor and you will know that they are there.
Inlays and onlays vs. metal fillings:
Inlays and onlays are stronger because they are strongly bonded to the tooth. Porcelain fillings hold the tooth together, pulling on the surfaces they are bonded to. Mercury fillings are not bonded and they push outwards against the tooth's cusps because they are packed tightly into the cavity. Since they act like metal wedges, they gradually weaken the tooth and can cause the teeth to crack.
Inlays and onlays do not conduct heat and cold in the mouth like metal fillings do. Metal amalgam is reactive to hot and cold, expanding and contracting slightly with each hot or cold thing in the mouth. This puts repeated stress on the tooth, leading to fractures and or root canals because it is weakening the tooth over time.
Inlays and onlays rarely loosen or fall out. As amalgam fillings get older, they can corrode,loosen or break, but porcelain inlays and onlays are tightly bonded to the tooth. They become part of the tooth and can remain so for many years while protecting the tooth and reducing the likelihood for the need of root canal treatment or crowns.
Inlays and onlays not only help function dramatically, but they also look great. The color used is matched to your teeth so that it blends naturally.
Dr. Botbol and our experienced team can help you learn more about whether you are a good candidate for single visit inlays or onlays.
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Before: Patient desired to have broken teeth repaired and remaining mercury fillings replaced to prevent the risk of teeth breaking further.
After: In one visit with CAD/CAM dentistry, the mercury fillings were replaced and broken teeth were restored with enamel hybrid ceramics.