Porcelain Inlays and Onlays

LVI-Trained Dentist Serving Oakton, Vienna, McLean and Nearby Northern Virginia

Cosmetic dentist Dr. Michael Chung talks to figure skater Michael Weiss during a consultation

In the days before modern dentistry, people had one choice of material for fillings: metal amalgam. At Softouch Dental Care, we do not offer metal fillings because we feel they pose too much possible risk. Metal amalgam contains about 50% mercury, which is a known poison. In many countries it has been banned.

There is ongoing controversy as to the degree of risk posed by the mercury in tooth fillings, and the jury is still out. But we prefer not to put our patients at any potential risk and instead offer porcelain inlays and onlays or dental bonding as the materials for filling teeth.

Inlays vs. Onlays

An inlay fills a smaller cavity contained within the tooth’s cusps. An onlay is larger, extending over the cusps to an outside surface. An onlay is somewhere between a filling and a tooth crown.

What Is Dental Porcelain?

Dental porcelain is a tooth-colored, hard, brittle substance and it is partly translucent. That is, it both absorbs light and reflects it. Tooth enamel is also partly translucent, and this is what makes porcelain restorations so similar-looking to enamel. They have that same pearly-white shine.

When you have an inlay or onlay, the exact shade of porcelain is chosen to match your natural teeth. The procedure is much the same as having a traditional filling, except that it takes two visits. This is because the filling will be custom-made in a dental lab. In the second visit, Dr. Chung will fit it in place like a perfect little puzzle piece and bond it to your tooth.

By being bonded to your tooth, the inlay or onlay strengthens and prolongs the tooth's life. A metal filling is packed into the cavity and exerts outward pressure against it. This can weaken the tooth and eventually even break it.

Advantages of Dental Porcelain

  • It shines white like natural teeth
  • It is stain resistant like glass
  • It is strong and durable
  • Inlays and onlays strengthen the tooth by being bonded to it
  • It needs only the same care you would give your teeth

Find out about our tooth-colored restorations by calling 703-319-6990 to schedule an initial consultation at Softouch Dental Care today.