Dental techniques and materials have come a long way in the last couple of decades. It was not long ago that your only choice for cavity treatment was to fill the cavity with amalgam, or another unsightly metallic material. Some dentists still use these materials regularly, even though today’s porcelain fillings are superior, both functionally and aesthetically. Here are just a few of the advantages:
- A more natural look – Porcelain fillings are color-matched to your teeth, making them virtually indistinguishable from the surrounding tooth enamel.
- Added strength and durability – Amalgam and other traditional filling materials are simply packed into the cavity. Porcelain fillings are actually bonded to the tooth, adding structural integrity to the tooth.
- Metal fillings can actually damage your tooth – Amalgam and other metals are susceptible to expansion and contraction due to temperature changes. This expansion and contraction puts added stress on the remaining natural tooth structure, which can lead to cracking and other tooth damage. Porcelain does not behave this way, thereby eliminating the risk of further tooth damage.
- No mercury exposure - Many older metal fillings contain some amount of mercury. Porcelain is considered biologically inert.
Because of these advantages, many of our patients have replaced their old metal fillings with porcelain.
Inlays and Onlays
A porcelain filling may also be referred to as an inlay or an onlay. The only difference between the two lies in how much of a tooth is being repaired. With specific reference to rear teeth, an inlay is used to describe a filling that stays within the upper rim of the tooth. An onlay describes a filling that extends over this upper rim. In short, an onlay is used to treat more extensive decay. If the decay is too severe, a dental crown may be a more appropriate option.