All dentists wish to preserve as much natural tooth structure as possible. Dr. Yelena Obholz, expert in periodontal procedures, oral surgery and prosthodontics, is no different. Preventive and superior restorative dentistry is the passion of this cosmetic dentist in Washington, DC. As such, she places beautifully seamless onlays and inlays as great alternatives to large, dark amalgam fillings.
What are Inlays and Onlays?
An inlay is a custom-made porcelain restoration placed in the center chewing surface of a large tooth such as a molar. It resides among the cusps, or corners, of the tooth and replaces decayed tooth structure with a durable, bonded-in piece of dental ceramic. Bonding is permanent, and the color is perfectly matched to remaining natural enamel.
An onlay also is crafted from porcelain. It extends over the entire chewing surface of a tooth, including the corners. Dentists often call onlays “partial crowns” because like full crowns, they restore the full form and function of a failing or injured tooth or tooth with a very large amalgam filling.
Are They Better Than Amalgam?
What in the world is amalgam? Well, if you have dark, silvery fillings in your mouth, you have amalgam fillings. The state-of-the-art cavity restoration for decades, amalgam fillings have raised some concerns in recent years because of their minute mercury component. Additionally, amalgam is noticeably unattractive when placed in any tooth but particularly when the tooth is in the smile zone at the front of the mouth. Over time, amalgam fillings can look almost black. Plus, they require extensive enamel removal to secure them in teeth.
So, are porcelain inlays and onlays preferable to amalgam? In many situations they can be. The final judgement is up to your Washington, DC dentist. Aesthetics are not the only issue with dental fillings. Strength and longevity are also important. In short, amalgam will last longest and function best in areas of the mouth where crushing forces are greatest.
However, porcelain inlays and onlays have the obvious aesthetic advantage. Plus, Dr. Obholz has to remove only decayed enamel to place an inlay or onlay. She uses a special etching liquid to prepare the surface and then bonds the restoration to the tooth. With amalgam, the dentist must remove more tooth structure to effectively place the filling.
Also, inlays and onlays are great alternatives to full porcelain crowns. Partial crowns replace only the damaged part of a tooth, leaving the rest of the tooth completely intact and securely bonded to the restoration. A full crown involves substantial grinding down of tooth structure.
What’s Your Best Restoration?
It may be a natural-looking inlay or onlay. However, only your dentist, Dr. Yelena Obholz, can tell you for sure through oral exam and X-rays. If you have a compromised tooth or wish to eliminate amalgam fillings, contact Aesthetic & Family Dentistry of Washington for a consultation.