Do you have any teeth damaged by decay or old fashioned silver mercury amalgam fillings? Has the passage of time or “wear and tear” caused your teeth to wear down creating sensitivity or an “older” looking smile? Do you have any fractured or chipped back teeth? Have any of your teeth shown signs of “erosion” from acids in your diet or from reflux?
The solution for all of those dental situations may be a bonded (adhesive) ceramic (porcelain) porcelain inlay or onlay An inlay is a filling which is made at a dental lab in which only a portion of the biting surface is restored, usually between “cusps” (the bumps on your teeth) and usually on the side of your tooth. An onlay is similar but covers a more of the chewing surface of your tooth, usually replacing an entire “cusp”. A complete onlay covers the entire top of your back tooth (much like a full crown or cap) but does not go all the way down to the gum. The specifics of your particular situation will dictate an inlay, onlay or perhaps a combination of both. We also make inlays and onlays out of gold, which has the advantage of being the most durable of restorative materials, but gold of course is nowhere near as cosmetic or natural looking as custom shaded bonded porcelain.
Porcelain Advantages and Disadvantages
Porcelain produces an excellent cosmetic look. It is presently the most durable white restorative material for teeth available. When bonded to the tooth it creates an extremely strong restoration. Unlike old silver-mercury amalgam fillings which weaken and crack teeth over time, bonded porcelain restorations will actually strengthen damaged teeth. It is important to remember that porcelain is a “glass” that can occasionally chip, so you must use common sense when chewing on your ceramic restorations. One shouldn’t, of course, eat anything that you wouldn’t chew on your natural teeth. During the two to three weeks it will take the lab to craft the porcelain inlay or onlay, your tooth will be protected by a custom fitted and temporarily cemented composite (plastic) restoration.
Advantages of porcelain include:
· High strength (the highest strength white fillings available). This allows us to also “build up” or restore worn down bites
· They look great (indistinguishable from natural teeth)
· They do not easily wear down
· They last a long time (the longest lasting white restorations available, second only to gold)
· They take two appointments to complete (since they are fabricated at a dental lab)
· They sometimes can be repaired with composite in the unlikely event they chip, but it is possible a chipped porcelain inlay or onlay could need replacement.
· Lab made restorations are more expensive than weaker, shorter lasting plastic fillings.
Overall, porcelain is the best choice if you want the strongest and longest lasting tooth colored restoration presently available. They will easily outperform composite (plastic) fillings in durability and longevity. Our goals are always to preserve as much of your natural tooth as possible and to restore your smile and tooth functionality at the very highest level. Contact me at our suburban Detroit office at 248-356-8790 and let me show you before/after photos of some beautiful porcelain work we have done. We will always provide you with the best possible options to select from, individually customized to your needs and lifestyle.
So until next time,
Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD