Alternative to conventional fillings for repairing damaged teeth
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 and different parts of the mouth and different parts of the teeth.
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 to your other teeth
Inlays and Onlays at Ten Dental
You can see more results with inlays and onlays in our Smile Gallery.