Porcelain Onlays – What are They?
Traditional metal fillings are unsightly. They can also weaken a tooth, eventually. Some dentists also think that metal fillings contributed to fractures on teeth. Thus, porcelain onlays are being used as an alternative.
Onlays are bonded to the tooth permanently. They are fixed that way to add strength. Furthermore, the type of restoration they provide are undetectable.
What are They Exactly?
Porcelain onlays are almost similar to dental crowns. That said, they are designed to protect and restore tooth that has been broken or damaged. They are usually used if tooth filling is not enough to fix the damaged or decayed tooth.
Onlays can cover all chewing surfaces of the tooth. They can also strengthen the tooth so it will not fracture easily.
Inlays and onlays are the same. They only differ on how they are positioned. Porcelain inlays are placed on teeth with indented top surfaces of decayed or damaged teeth. Onlays, on the other hand, are used if the decay or damage is extended to one or more cusps.
What are They Made Of?
Onlays are highly durable as they are created using specially formulated dental porcelain. They are also made to match the natural color, texture and luminescence of your tooth. As part of dental restoration, onlays are invisible as they can absorb light.
Compared with metal fillings, onlays strengthen and enhance your tooth structure. They become a part of your tooth as they are fixed and bonded to it. Unlike metal fillings, they provide long-lasting solution for restoring tooth decay or damage.
Why Metal Fillings Cause Further Damage to Tooth Structure?
As previously mentioned, porcelain onlays are better than metal fillings because they do not cause further damage to your tooth structure, unlike the fillings.
The metal fillings in your teeth stay in your teeth because they are packed tightly. But they expand and contract when there is a change in temperature, like when you eat hot or cold foods/drinks. It repeatedly changes the pressure on your teeth. As a result, the filling weakens surrounding tooth structure. This will lead to the filling and tooth breaking.
But porcelain onlays do not work like that. They do not disturb the structure of your tooth. As they are bonded to your tooth, they do not cause weakening of the structure. They also do not crack over time.
How Long Does the Process Take?
Placing the porcelain onlays may require one, two or more office visits. This will depend on your condition.
But during your first visit, the old metal filing is removed. The cavity is also removed before your dentist will take an impression of said tooth. Once the impression is taken, it will be sent to a dental laboratory. Your dentist will also take photographs and other related data to the laboratory to further help in getting that perfect shape of your tooth.
Since you are going to wait for a little while before the onlays are placed, your dentist will place a temporary restoration on the tooth. During your next visit, the onlays are fitted. If you are satisfied with the result, they are bonded permanently to the tooth.
What They are Considered?
There are plenty of advantages that porcelain onlays can offer. One of these benefits is that they can preserve your natural tooth structure. If the tooth structure is healthy, your dentist will leave it alone, thereby, opting for onlays to protect the remaining part of the tooth.
Because they do not have the risk of going down to the gum line, they do not cause gum irritation. Dental crowns can contribute to gum disease because they usually irritate the gums.
Since they look natural, they are aesthetically pleasing.
Unfortunately, porcelain onlays require to be placed perfectly onto the tooth to make sure they fit well. Thus, you should consider getting them from a dentist with great deal of expertise in this area. It is highly recommended that you only choose an expert cosmetic dentist to make them.
They may break but if they are done by an expert dentist, that risk is entirely minimized.
Apart from that, not all patients are good candidates for porcelain onlays. They are perfect for those with new cavities or large, old metal fillings. Consult your cosmetic dentist to know whether or not you can have this type of tooth restoration.