Inlays and onlays help to restore moderately damaged or decayed teeth at the back of the mouth to provide strength and stability for normal chewing.
An inlay is made outside the mouth by the laboratory and serves to fill a large hole in the tooth. The material used can be tooth-coloured porcelain, composite or gold that is used on strong bites on the back of the tooth.
An impression of the tooth is taken once the decay and damaged tooth has been cleared. This records the shape of the tooth being repaired and the teeth around it. A temporary inlay will be placed to protect the tooth while the laboratory makes the inlay. On the next visit the inlay will be bonded to the tooth and slight adjustments will be made to the bite if necessary.
An onlay is positioned on the tooth and builds up its shape. The process of making an onlay is the same as the inlay.
Inlays and onlays are strong and last longer than fillings. They are most suitable for large restorations of the back teeth.
Nowadays fillings are not only functional, but can be natural looking as well. The material for white fillings can vary, and are mainly made of glass particles, porcelain and a synthetic resin and a setting ingredient.
White fillings are less long lasting and can discolour. They are not suitable on the back teeth. The life expectancy of a white filling can depend greatly on where it is in the mouth and how heavy the teeth come together when you bite.