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Blog

Inlays or Onlays

What are they?

Inlays and Onlays, also known as indirect fillings, are dental restoring techniques which are well-fitting, stronger solutions to small tooth damage and tooth decay. Onlays and inlays are the best options to fix minor damage to a healthy tooth instead of filling with resin or covering the tooth entirely with a crown. Instead of dental fillings which are moulded into place and bonded to the tooth, inlays and onlays are fabricated indirectly in a dental lab before being fitted and bonded to the damaged tooth by your dentist.

Inlays and onlays offer a better suitable alternative to regular fillings as they preserve the healthy parts of the tooth, are tighter in fit, are less likely to discolour than resin fillings and restore the structure of a healthy tooth to ensure functional longevity.

Do I need an inlay or an onlay?

An inlay is a pre-moulded filling that is fitted into the groove of the tooth. Inlays are used for teeth that have been broken, fractured, had tooth decay or other structural damage. Inlays are able to fix the chewing surface and are almost invisible when matched to the tooth colour. They can be made from a tooth-coloured material such as ceramic, porcelain or composite.

Dental Onlays are similar to fillings however, they also extend onto the chewing surface of a back tooth and are thus on the tooth. Onlays are thus able to fix the chewing surface and tips of the tooth. An impression is taken of the teeth in order to make an only to fit the cusp of the tooth perfectly. Once the onlay has been moulded, the onlay is fitted and bonded to the tooth. These days, onlays are also made from a tooth-coloured material such as ceramic, porcelain or composite.

Onlays and inlays are able to strengthen the tooth up to 75% more than fillings. Your dentist will be able to tell you if you are in need of overlays, inlays, fillings or if a crown or bridge should rather be used.

How long does a dental onlay or inlay take to fit?

An impression of your bite is taken by your dentist in your first appointment, after which the inlay or onlay is moulded by a dental technician in a lab. For the meanwhile, a temporary filling is done to protect the tooth from further damage and help chewing.

Inlays and onlays can be made from gold, porcelain or resin materials. Dr Chodree will discuss the best type of material to use depending on the placement of the damaged tooth and the aesthetics of your smile.

After the inlay or onlay is custom made, you will have a follow-up appointment, and the temporary filling will be removed and replaced by the custom-made onlay or inlay. Dr Chodree will then ensure a smooth fit and bond to the tooth.

old sliver amalgam fillings
The old silver amalgam fillings are unaesthetic in appearance. There is a great deal of controversy about silver fillings that contain mercury.


replacing mercury fillings

Some dentists and patients prefer not to use this type of filling material and they may choose to replace existing mercury fillings with white fillings.


porcelain inlays

Porcelain inlays have been used to replace the deteriorating silver restorations. They are created to replace the correct anatomy of the tooth.