Porcelain Inlays & Onlays

When more than half of the tooth’s biting surface is damaged a dentist will often use an inlay or onlay.

What are Porcelain inlays and onlays?

Inlays and onlays can be made of porcelain, gold, or composite resin. These pieces are bonded to the damaged area of the tooth. An inlay, which is similar to a filling, is used inside the cusp tips of the tooth. An onlay is a more substantial reconstruction, similar to the inlay but extending out over one or more of the cusps of the tooth. However; an onlay does save a significant amount of tooth structure when compared to the traditional crown, as such it is an excellent alternative to a full crown when indicated.

Recent advances in dental materials have created a very strong type of porcelain comprised of Lithium disilicate, brand name: Emax.  This material has proven to be stronger than previous porcelains used for this purpose.

How are Porcelain inlays and onlays applied?

Porcelain Inlays and onlays require two appointments to complete the procedure. During the first visit, the filling being replaced or the damaged or decaying area of the tooth is removed, and the tooth is prepared for the inlay or onlay. To ensure proper fit and bite, an impression of the tooth is made by the dentist, and sent to a lab for fabrication. The dentist will then apply a temporary restoration on the tooth and schedule the next appointment.

At the second appointment, the temporary sealant is removed. Dr. Goldy will then make sure that the inlay or onlay fits correctly. If the fit is satisfactory, the inlay or onlay will be bonded to the tooth with a strong resin and polished to a smooth finish.

Considerations for Porcelain inlays and onlays

Traditional fillings can reduce the strength of a natural tooth by up to 50 percent. As an alternative, porcelain inlays and onlays, which are bonded directly onto the tooth using special high-strength resins, can actually increase the strength of a tooth by up to 75 percent. As a result, they can last from 10 to 30 years. In some cases, where the damage to the tooth is not extensive enough to merit an entire crown, onlays can provide a very good alternative.