Molars take a beating. They are the primary teeth used for grinding your food into tiny bits so your digestive system does not have to work so hard. If you also have bruxism or grind your teeth when you are asleep, then your molars really suffer because there is nothing there to prevent your teeth from grinding themselves down. If you have a cavity, you are more likely to have it in a molar or in between molars as well. Instead of fillings or crowns to repair damaged molars, you could get porcelain inlays or onlays instead.
The Difference Between Inlays and Onlays
Both of these are custom, cosmetic procedures that utilize porcelain, but that is where the similarities stop. Inlays replace traditional metal or tooth-colored fillings so that your teeth are stronger and more durable against cavities and bruxism. Onlays cover all of the crown of the tooth, allowing you to keep more of your natural tooth than a crown would. An onlay reinforces the entire top of the tooth so that when you bite down or grind your teeth in your sleep you are not fracturing your teeth into several pieces.
Why You Would Prefer a Porcelain Onlay to a Porcelain Crown
Both effectively protect your tooth against cavities and against grinding wear and fractures. However, to get a crown fitted and placed, your dentist has to grind away most of your natural tooth, leaving a stub behind to bond the crown to. With a porcelain onlay, only a small part of the tooth is sanded away in order to accommodate the onlay in between the teeth. You can also request this cosmetic procedure if you want to replace a less attractive metal onlay.
Matching Inlays and Onlays to Your Natural Tooth Color
Because it is a molar, not many people are likely to see it when you smile or talk, but your dentist will still attempt to match the inlays and onlays to your natural tooth color. If you plan to whiten your molars as well as the teeth you see when you smile, be sure to do this before you get inlays or onlays, because otherwise they will not match the new white of your teeth and it will be quite obvious. Additionally, if you smoke or consume dark-colored beverages such as coffee, tea or colas, the onlays and inlays will remain one color while your natural teeth darken, so be very careful about that too.
Where to Go for These Procedures
Some general dentists perform cosmetic procedures if they have the training. Otherwise you will need to schedule an appointment with an advanced cosmetic dentist who does more than just whiten teeth and provide dental implants. Regardless of who you see, you will need to make two separate visits, even if the dentist has his own in-house lab to create your custom inlays, onlays and crowns.
For more information contact a local cosmetic dentistry clinic.