Inlays and Onlays

What are they?

You can sometimes have inlays or onlays instead of conventional fillings to repair damaged teeth. Fillings are soft to begin with and are moulded in the tooth which has been shaped to take and hold the filling and then set hard. Inlays and onlays are made outside the mouth, usually in a dental laboratory on a model of your teeth, and then bonded to the tooth in the surgery.

An inlay sits in a hole in the tooth. An onlay sits on the tooth and builds up its shape. Inlays and onlays can be made in tooth-coloured porcelain, gold or a white filling material called composite. Different materials are suitable for different parts of the mouth.

What will my dentist do?

Your dentist will:
::  Normally give you a local anaesthetic to numb the area
::  Remove any old filling material and any decayed or damaged tooth structure
::  Use a putty-like material to record the shape of the tooth being repaired and the teeth around it – this is called taking an ‘impression’
::  Give the impression to an experienced highly trained dental technician to custom make an inlay or onlay to fit your tooth
::  Use a temporary filling to protect the tooth that is being repaired while you wait for the inlay or onlay to be made
::  Bond the inlay or onlay in place on your next visit – the dentist may make small adjustments, so that the tooth is comfortable to bite on

What are the benefits?

::  Inlays and onlays are very strong and usually last much longer than fillings
::  They are especially suitable for the chewing surfaces of back teeth and for large repairs to front teeth, where it can be difficult to make a white filling look natural
::  Your dentist can often get a better match to the colour of your other teeth