Porcelain Dental Inlays/Onlays
Northern Virginia, including Arlington, Tysons Corner, Alexandria, Fairfax, and McLean, Virginia Dentist
If you experience mild to moderate tooth decay, fractures or cracks in a tooth, but the damage is not severe enough to require a dental crown, dental inlays or onlays may be just what the cosmetic dentist orders to restore your smile.
WHAT IS A DENTAL INLAY?
Dental inlays are like a composite filling and are used inside the cusp tips of a tooth. Inlays are created out of fired porcelain, allowing the doctors to match the color of your natural tooth, making the restoration invisible to the naked eye. Much like a crown, our doctors will create a temporary inlay for your tooth, take an impression, and send the impression to the lab for the porcelain restoration. You will need to see our doctors to have the final inlay bonded to the tooth and polished.
WHAT IS A DENTAL ONLAY?
Dental onlays are made of fired porcelain, just like inlays. However, onlays are a more substantial restoration, extending out over one or more of the cusps of the tooth. Where a crown may have been necessary, an onlay can often be used to repair the damaged portion of the tooth, leaving much more of the original tooth structure intact. Dental onlays are also made in the lab, and will require a return visit. Your temporary onlay should hold up to normal wear until your return appointment.
DENTAL INLAYS VS. DENTAL ONLAYS
The use of a dental inlay or a dental onlay depends on the location of the tooth decay or damage:
- Damage to the upper surface of the teeth requires a dental inlay. The restoration material will be bonded within the tooth surface.
- Damage that includes surface structure as well as to one or more cusps of the teeth requires a dental onlay. The restoration may even cover the entire biting surface.
DENTAL INLAY & ONLAY PROCEDURE
Both processes are essentially the same and require two visits to our office. During the first visit, we will prepare the damaged tooth by removing all decay. We will then make a mold so a custom porcelain dental inlay or onlay can be manufactured. The porcelain can be matched to your existing smile, so it integrates impeccably with your smile.
It will take approximately two weeks to create your porcelain dental inlay or dental onlay. A temporary dental inlay or onlay will be attached to your prepared tooth to use during the interim.
When we have received your lab-fabricated, precision fit, porcelain dental restoration, you will return to the office. We can thoroughly check the dental inlay or onlay for precise fit, comfort and function. When the fit is satisfactory we bond the permanent restoration to the tooth, and adjust for a proper bite and polish.
BENEFITS OF PORCELAIN INLAYS & ONLAYS
There are many benefits of porcelain inlays and onlays:
- They strengthen damaged or decayed teeth.
- Porcelain materials can match your smile, making them virtually invisible
- There is no expansion or contraction of the porcelain material, which can lead to tooth fractures
- The restorations preserve more of your natural tooth during this process
- They are durable and long-lasting
WHAT WAS WRONG WITH METAL FILLINGS?
In recent years, dentists have learned that the metal fillings in your mouth act much like metal does outside of the mouth. Exposed to heat and cold, such as hot coffee or ice cream, the metal fillings in your teeth expand and contract causing micro fractures in the structure of the teeth. As the silvermercury fillings shift, they can weaken the teeth they were meant to protect and even cause the entire tooth to crack. The expansion and contraction also creates small openings between the filling and the tooth structure where harmful bacteria can enter the openings and become trapped, leading to further tooth decay. After 10 years, there is an 80% chance that decay will occur under and around the silver-mercury restoration.
WHY WOULD I WANT AN INLAY OR ONLAY INSTEAD OF A METAL FILLING?
An dental inlay or onlay is a much more reliable restoration for the tooth than a metal filling and is considered by most in the profession as adhesive dentistry, because it bonds the tooth together making it much more stable. While traditional fillings can reduce tooth strength, inlays and onlays made of high strength porcelain can potentially increase tooth strength, lasting from 10 to 30 years.