Inlays & Onlays

Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 January 2021

 Inlays & Onlays 


What are they?

You can have inlays or onlays instead of a filling. Fillings are soft to begin with and are moulded to the shape in the mouth. Inlays and onlays are made outside the mouth, usually in a dental laboratory, and then glued to the tooth in the surgery.

An inlay sits in a hole in the tooth. And onlay sits on the tooth and builds up its shape. They can be made in tooth colouring porcelain, gold or a material called composite. Different materials are suitable for 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;
  • Use soft, mouldable material which sets in the mouth to record the shape of the tooth being repaired and the teeth around it;
  • Give the impression to the dental technician to make the inlay or onlay;
  • Use a temporary filling to protect the tooth that is being repaired while you wait for the inlay or onlay to be repaired; and
  • Glue the inlay or onlay in place on your next visit (they may make small adjustments so that the tooth is comfortable to bite on).

What are the benefits?

  • Inlays and onlays are strong and can last 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 match the colour to your other teeth.