Porcelain onlays are a type of dental restoration made out of dental porcelain, that are used to repair and strengthen a tooth that has been damaged or has a significant amount of decay. They are also used when a tooth needs to be made “taller” due to lack of vertical dimension. In dental restorative treatment, the vertical dimension refers to the height or thickness of the bite, which is the distance between the upper and lower jaws when the teeth are in contact. Increasing the vertical dimension may be a part of some dental treatments, especially in cases where there significant wear of the teeth, loss of vertical dimension due to tooth loss, or when addressing issues related to the temporomandibular joint(TMJ). Porcelain onlays, while primarily used to restore and strengthen damaged or decayed teeth, can contribute to changes in the vertical dimension in those type of situations.
THE WAY ONLAYS WORK is they replace missing (from decay) or needed (from lack of height) tooth structure by bonding the custom-designed porcelain to the individual tooth. After scanning your teeth with a digital scanner, Dr. Bis uses the scans to custom-design the teeth needing this type of restoration to ideal shape, size, and fit into your bite. She then uses this design to mill a block of porcelain in the shade desired to match your teeth, which is then polished and bonded to your tooth. This then becomes part of your tooth and acts as a natural tooth would.
THE BENEFIT of onlays is that they are very conservative when compared to crowns, since they preserve natural tooth structure. Porcelain onlays are also known for their natural appearance and ability to blend seamlessly with the surrounding teeth. They are also strong and durable, providing longevity to the restoration.
DISADVANTAGE of porcelain onlays is that, while porcelain is a durable material, it may still be more prone to fracture or chipping compared to some other dental materials, such as metal or gold. Excessive force or trauma can contribute to this risk. If they become damaged, a replacement may be necessary.