What is a porcelain onlay or inlay?
When bacteria has compromised the enamel and dentin of a tooth, decay is the result and it must be removed to prevent further harm to the health of the tooth. For many years, this decay was drilled out and a large amalgam filling containing mercury was used to fill the void left by the decay. However, as that material hardened some shrinkage occurred and a microscopic gap was left in which bacteria could further infiltrate and harm the tooth.
Porcelain onlays and inlays are a wonderful, conservative alternative to large fillings. They are custom-tailored restorations made in a lab that are stronger than fillings done in the office. They fit into the tooth like a puzzle piece, but in the case of onlays also extend onto the chewing surface of back teeth to replace one or more cusps.
What are the advantages of ceramic/porcelain onlays and inlays?
Traditionally these were made out of cast gold, but increasingly patients prefer a ceramic/porcelain material, which is a more cosmetic alternative. Functionally, the ceramic/porcelain aesthetic onlay or inlay is also stronger because it is actually bonded to the tooth. This bonding method actually increases the strength of the tooth and helps to seal out future decay.