A porcelain onlay restoration is a special, custom made filling that is constructed of porcelain. It is similar to onlays made of tooth colored composite material. In some cases, patients may also elect to have onlays made of gold. Porcelain onlays are quite popular, because they are extremely durable, and they closely resemble your natural teeth. Another name for an onlay is “partial crown”.
Porcelain onlays must be made by a professional dental laboratory. They are then permanently cemented in place by your dentist.
Onlays are a conservative way to repair teeth that have large, defective fillings or teeth that have been damaged by trauma or decay. Onlays are considered a more conservative alternative to crowns (caps) because the process of preparing the tooth removes much less tooth structure. The essential difference between Onlays and inlays is that in the case of onlays, one or more of the chewing cusps have damage, and require restoration.
As with natural teeth and all types of dental restorations, onlays are subject to wear and structural damage—so they are not always permanent. They may someday require maintenance or replacement. Porcelain onlays are quite durable, though, and with reasonable care they will last for many years, enhancing your beautiful, natural smile
Whether porcelain or otherwise, the onlay procedure will usually require two appointments. During the first appointment, the dentist will make several very precise impressions (or molds). These will be used to construct a temporary restoration and your custom ceramic onlay.
The tooth and adjacent gum will be anesthetized. While it is numb, the dentist will remove all decay and any existing filling materials. The space will then be carefully shaped, thoroughly cleaned and prepared to properly fit an onlay restoration. When the preparations are completed, a temporary restoration will be placed to protect the tooth until your onlay can be constructed by a dental laboratory.
During your second appointment, the temporary restoration will be removed, the tooth again thoroughly cleaned, and your new onlay will be carefully and precisely cemented in place. Your dentist will then double check for fit and bite. If necessary, minor adjustments may be needed to ensure that your bite is comfortable and the fit is correct.
At the conclusion of your treatment, you will receive care instructions for proper maintenance of your new onlay. As with natural teeth and all dental appliances, proper diet, good oral hygiene practices and regular dental checkups will help to prolong the life of your new porcelain onlay.