Inlays and onlays can be used for teeth that are too damaged for fillings, but not quite deteriorated enough to need a full crown. By using an inlay or onlay, your dentist can preserve more of the tooth’s natural structure.
Inlays and onlays are similar in concept to a filling as they are used to seal and fill a large cavity within the centre of a tooth. The key difference is that they are produced in a laboratory, outside the mouth. Your dentist will be able to take a thorough look at the existing part of your tooth to decide which could be the best option for you.
The procedure will require at least two visits to your dentist. During your first session, your dentist will apply local anaesthesia to the area to be treated before preparing the tooth so it is ready for the inlay or onlay. If you already have an existing filling, your dentist will remove this, as well as removing any parts of your tooth that are suffering from decay. Your dentist will preserve as much of your natural tooth as possible.
Once the preparation work has been done, your dentist will take an impression of your tooth and send it to the dental lab, where your bespoke inlay or onlay will be made using the material of your choice, such as composite or porcelain. While you are waiting for your inlay or onlay, your dentist is likely to apply a temporary filling to protect your tooth.
During a follow-up visit, your temporary filling will be removed and your dentist will make sure your inlay or onlay fits properly before they seal it in place with dental cement. If it is not quite a perfect fit, your dentist will be able to make minor adjustments to ensure your new inlay or onlay blends in well with your existing teeth.
Like fillings, inlays and onlays are a type of restorative dentistry, but unlike traditional fillings which are created by your dentist, they are manufactured in a dental lab. While the standard filling procedure can be faster, an inlay or onlay could be a better option in the long-term if your tooth has extensive damage. If you have a large tooth cavity or you have an old filling which is no longer offering your tooth the protection it needs, you can chat to our dentists about whether an inlay or onlay could be the best option for you.
Inlays and onlays are designed to look and function like natural teeth. With daily brushing and flossing, in addition to regular professional cleaning and dental check-ups, your restored tooth can last for many years.