What are onlays and inlays?

Porcelain inlays and onlays are porcelain fillings that unlike the old unsightly metal fillings, they cannot be seen when you smile or laugh. Only we and you will know that they’re there. They’re pearly white like the teeth they fill, so if you are looking to get rid of those old ugly amalgam fillings, this may be your chance.

How do inlays differ from onlays?

An inlay is smaller than an onlay. As its name suggests, it lies within the tooth cusps (the small bumps on the top tooth surface). Inlays fill smaller cavities.An onlay extends over the top of one or more cusps, filling a larger cavity that involves a side tooth surface as well as the top.

Dental porcelain

Tooth enamel and dental porcelain are both translucent and react with light in similar ways. A translucent substance allows light to travel through it. The light that enters tooth enamel is reflected back off the tooth layer below, the dentin, which is yellow. Light entering porcelain is reflected back off the dental cement used to attach it to the tooth. In both cases, the result is the pearly-white shine we associate with healthy and beautiful teeth.

Inlays and onlays vs. metal fillings

  • Inlays and onlays are stronger because they are permanently bonded to the tooth. Metal fillings are not. Porcelain fillings hold the tooth together, pulling on the surfaces they are bonded to. Metal fillings push outwards against the tooth’s periphery because they are packed tightly into the cavity. They gradually weaken the tooth and can cause teeth to crack.

  • Inlays and onlays do not react to hot and cold substances in the mouth like metal fillings do. Metal amalgam is made up of mercury, with smaller amounts of copper, tin, silver, and a trace of zinc. This mix is reactive to heat and cold, expanding and contracting slightly with each hot or cold thing in the mouth. This puts repeated stress on the tooth, again weakening it over time.

  • Inlays and onlays will never loosen or fall out. As metal fillings age, they can loosen, but porcelain inlays and onlays are completely bonded to the tooth. They are part of the tooth and will remain so indefinitely.

  • Inlays and onlays are attractive. The porcelain used is matched to your teeth in exact shade of white.The porcelain, like the enamel, shines in the light, giving you a young-looking, healthy smile.