Although fillings are the most common way to repair cavities, they are not the only option. If there is only a moderate amount of decay in a tooth, your dentist may recommend a porcelain inlay or onlay. Porcelain inlays and onlays are tooth coloured alternatives to traditional fillings. They are called inlays when they are affixed to the inside surfaces of your tooth, and they are called onlays when they are attached to the external surfaces of your tooth.
Inlays and onlays are made from porcelain, which is both esthetic (it looks like your natural teeth) and durable (they can last much longer than traditional fillings).
How are porcelain inlays and onlays applied?
In most dental practices, the procedure for applying inlays and onlays is much the same as it is for crowns. Once the tooth is refined and smoothed, an impression will be taken. That will be followed by your dentist preparing and applying a temporary inlay or onlay while the permanent one is made at a dental lab. Once your permanent inlay or onlay is ready, your dentist will replace the temporary one with the permanent fixture.
What are the benefits of porcelain inlays and onlays?
Porcelain inlays and onlays have many benefits over traditional fillings. In addition to providing a much more attractive look than metal fillings and being more durable, inlays and onlays can actually strengthen your tooth by up to 75%. As the porcelain is firmly bonded to your tooth, it also helps to prevent bacteria from creeping in and causing more damage and decay. Furthermore, porcelain inlays and onlays can require less of your natural tooth to be removed in the preparation phase than traditional fillings. Since porcelain doesn’t expand or contract with changes in temperature like metal can, inlays and onlays won’t fracture or weaken your teeth.
Are porcelain inlays and onlays right for me?
If you have a cavity or fracture that is mild or moderate in size, chances are that traditional fillings will be the best option for you. However, if the damage is larger, then porcelain inlays, onlays or a crown may be the better choice.
To learn if you are a good candidate for porcelain inlays or onlays, contact Town Smiles Dental today and schedule an appointment with one of our dentists.