Branimir Vatavuk, DDS
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Porcelain Onlays

An onlay restoration is a custom made filling made of composite material, gold, or tooth-colored porcelain.  Porcelain onlays are popular because they resemble your natural tooth.  An onlay is sometimes also referred to as a partial crown.  Porcelain onlays are made by a professional dental laboratory and is permanently cemented onto the tooth by your dentist.

Onlays can be utilized to conservatively repair teeth that have large defective fillings or have been damaged by decay or trauma.  Onlays are an ideal alternative to crowns (caps) because less tooth structure is removed in the preparation of onlays.  Onlays are essentially identical to inlays with the exception that one or more of the chewing cusps have also been affected and need to be included in the restoration.

As with most dental restorations, onlays are not always permanent and may someday require replacement.  They are highly durable and will last many years, giving you a beautiful long lasting smile.

There are a variety of types of porcelain restorations that we offer for onlays, depending on each individual case.  They include:

IPS e.max Press is a lithium disilicate glass-ceramic that offers excellent fit, form and function, combined with much higher strength compared to traditional porcelain.  It wears very similarly to natural enamel, and has a beautiful, life-like appearance.  These restorations have no metal in them, so they are highly esthetic and biocompatible.  The absence of metal eliminates the common fear of a metal crown collar showing, if there is gum recession years later.  This pressing process in the manufacture of the restoration strengthens the porcelain and eliminates porosity.  The fit is very precise with consistent tooth shades.

LavaTM Zirconia by 3M ESPE
This material combines CAD/CAM technology with hand crafted porcelain artistry, in a metal-free, highly natural-looking restoration.  Since it is reinforced by zirconia, it is extemely strong, so is especially suitable for bridges, as well as single crowns.  The LavaTM restoration is excellent in masking out dark colors in natural or root canal treated teeth.  Since there is no metal present, it is also highly biocompatible, and if there is any gum recession years later, there is no dark metal crown collar to expose.

Reasons for onlay restorations:

  • Broken or fractured teeth.
  • Cosmetic enhancement.
  • Decayed teeth.
  • Fractured fillings.
  • Large fillings.

What does getting an onlay involve?

An onlay procedure usually requires two appointments.  Your first appointment will include taking several highly accurate impressions (molds) that will be used to create your custom onlay and a temporary restoration.

While the tooth is numb, the dentist will remove any decay and/or old filling materials.  The space will then be thoroughly cleaned and carefully prepared, shaping the surface to properly fit an onlay restoration.  A temporary filling will be applied to protect the tooth while your onlay is made by a dental laboratory.

At your second appointment, your new onlay will be carefully and precisely cemented into place.  A few adjustments may be necessary to ensure a proper fit and that your bite is comfortable.

You will receive care instruction at the conclusion of your treatment.  Good oral hygiene practices, a proper diet, and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your new onlay.

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