If you have suffered with tooth decay then you may require a filling to fill up the cavity. If the decay has progressed and decayed a large portion of the tooth surface, then a dental crown may be required to restore the tooth.

What Are Inlays and Onlays?

The easiest way to explain this treatment, if a filling is not suitable to restore a tooth and it hasn’t progressed enough to justify a dental crown, then you may need an Inlay or Onlay. They bridge the gap between the two treatments, and your dentist will be able to assess your teeth and recommend the most suitable restoration so you can achieve dental health again.

Why Would I Need an Inlay and Onlay?

The type of decay these will be suitable for treating are:

  • Moderate tooth decay (less serious decay will be suitable for fillings)
  • Slight fracturing of teeth (serious cases would require dental crowns)

Often a tooth ache will be experienced and can be a tell tell sign that you may need an inlay/onlay. As a rule of thumb, when you start to feel pain, the problem will have progressed to the next stage, and there may have been early warning signs that can be spotted. We always recommend visiting your dentist on a regular basis so we can check the health of your teeth and spot any potential problems before pain starts to occur.

Will You Notice The Inlays and Onlays

We believe in natural dentistry and with the advances in modern dentistry we can use tooth colored materials to blend in restorations with your natural tooth colour. We will send the shade of your tooth with the impressions so they can be matched up for a nice discrete treatment.

What Is The Average Lifespan of Inlays and Onlays?

Inlays and Onlays are made out of a strong porcelain material, so they are long lasting. How long will vary from patient to patient, but there are two factors that can contribute to their lifespan:

  • Good oral hygiene
  • Not chewing too hard or clenching your teeth/grinding (ask us about bruxism and methods to treat this condition)

What Makes an Inlay Different to an Onlay

An Inlay is used to fill the internal structure (like a large filling) of the affected tooth and an Onlay are used to cover the tip of the tooth (like a small dental crown).

How Do We Place Inlays and Onlays?

To place an inlay and onlay will be completed over two appointments. Both the inlay and onlay are similar treatments, the only difference being the damage that is being repaired and which one is the most suitable one to use.

At the first appointment we will administer a local anaesthetic to the treatment area, so we can make the area nice and numb. The first step is to remove any decay from the tooth using our professional dental tools and to then prepare the site that your new restoration will be sitting in.

We will then take an impression of this tooth using a tray and putty system. This putty will fill the area of the tooth and set, making an exact replica of the space that needs filling. We will then send this off to our preferred dental laboratory who will make the inlay and onlay (usually out of a porcelain material). We will also let the laboratory know the shade of the tooth so they can match your new restoration to ensure it blends in with your teeth. We will do a temporary restoration to help protect your tooth until your final appointment, where we will fit your new inlay and onlay.

At the fit appointment, we will carefully remove your temporary restoration, and the fit your new restoration into the previously prepared tooth. When we are happy that the inlay and onlay fits correctly, we will apply the strong adhesive resin which will secure it into place. We will then give that tooth a polish to ensure it blends in nicely with your teeth and to give it a nice overall aesthetic appearance.

How Long Are Each Appointment?

This is dependent on the tooth being treated, but usually the first appointment will take around 1 hour to prepare the tooth. The second appointment doesn’t take as long, and this will usually be around 30-40 minutes to have the inlay and onlay fitted.

Does It Hurt During The Procedure?

We do inject the surrounding gums with a local anaesthetic to numb the area before we begin, but we do expect when you’re having the tooth prepared there will be a slight pressure which may cause some initial discomfort. The area surrounding the tooth can also feel a bit sensitive after both appointments, but this will settle down as your mouth accepts the new restoration. It may also feel a bit odd and not natural initially after they are fitted, but don’t worry, this is normal. Because restorations are not a natural part of the tooth structure, it takes a little while for our mouths, body and brain to accept this foreign body as being a normal addition.

What To Do If Your Worried You May Need An Inlay/Onlay

We always recommend a simple call to our friendly reception team who will be able to book you in for a dental assessment. We need to check all of your teeth to see what the root cause of your concerns is and then we can discuss the various treatment options suitable.

We are big advocates for regularly attending your dental check ups so we can help you keep on top of your dental health and to help prevent dental problems from progressing further. Early detection can help us fix the problem before even pain starts to occur and it can also mean you may require a less complex treatment, that doesn’t cost as much.

Opening Hours

Monday 8:00 - 5:00
Tuesday 8:00 - 5:00
Wednesday 9:00 - 5:00
Thursday 8:00 - 1:00
Friday 8:00 - 4:00


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