3 Important Facts About Porcelain Onlays

If you have significant damage to one or more of your teeth, restorative dental services are often the best choice. It is important to note that porcelain onlays are usually thought of as a conservative approach to restorative dentistry. The following information will help you understand why your dentist may recommend either a porcelain onlay or inlay for specific dental problems. 

#1-Onlays and Inlays Can Be Used In Place Of A Standard Filling

Although most people know that cavities need to be cleaned and filled in order to prevent additional decay, it is not as clearly understood that there are options other than the common mercury filling. Although popular in the United States, the use of mercury fillings can be controversial due to the concern about its possible toxicity.

As a result of that concern, some patients have elected to avoid getting new mercury fillings. Alternatively, they may choose to have existing dental fillings removed and replaced with new materials. Porcelain onlays and inlays are a popular choice for larger cavities or damaged teeth, due to their life span and aesthetic appeal.  They can both be described as a cover for teeth with large cavities that cannot be treated with a simple filling. Onlays are larger, since they cover the outside of damaged teeth, including cusps. Inlays are applied and protect from within the damaged tooth.

#2-Onlays Are Typically Needed When Damage To The Tooth Has Impacted One Or More Cusps

It is a good idea to remember when planning for reconstructive work on your teeth that a cusp is the raised point(s) on each tooth and that each tooth has at least one cusp. If the decay or damage to the tooth has impacted a cusp, porcelain onlays are often the easiest and most effective option. If the damage does not yet touch a cusp, an inlay is often the best choice, since the only difference between the two is simply the extra covering provided by the onlay.  

#3-Porcelain Onlays Look More Like Your Healthy Teeth And Last For A Long Time

Unfortunately, porcelain onlays can be pricey, but it is a good idea to consider the benefits they provide. For instance, the previously mentioned mercury filling is commonly used to treat cavities in molars due to their obvious color differences, while white fillings are used for the front teeth because they are more discreet.

One problem with both white and mercury-based fillings is their life span. Tooth-colored fillings may last as little as 5 years and silver fillings containing mercury will often last for just 10-15 years, assuming that adequate and appropriate oral care continues during that time period. In comparison, porcelain onlays can actually strengthen a tooth by as much as 75% and last up to 30 years.   

In conclusion, porcelain onlays are very strong. They are the best option for restoring the full function and usability of the tooth when severe damage or decay has occurred and a standard filling cannot repair the problem. When you are ready to make the investment in your smile and dental health, it is important to speak with a dentist like Dr. David K. Skeels to make an appropriate treatment plan.