11 Stretton Court,
Stretton Road, Great Glen,
Leicester LE8 9HB
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Inlays & Onlays

A long lasting solution to restore heavily broken teeth

Unlike crowns, inlays and onlays don’t cover the whole tooth but are used to restore areas of more extensive decay that cannot be treated effectively with a normal filling, usually at the back of the mouth. They are made from hard wearing materials including ceramic, porcelain, gold or composite resin.

Life benefits

  • Natural-looking restoration
  • Long lasting solution to restore heavily broken teeth
  • Strengthens and reinforces remaining tooth structure
  • Functions like a real tooth, so you can bite and chew as usual
  • Harder wearing compared to silver/ tooth coloured fillings.

What are Inlays and Onlays?

Inlays and onlays are two types of solid restorations that your Leicester dentist at Glen Dental can recommend as a solution to a tooth that may be broken or heavily filled previously. They are a suitable alternative when it is no longer possible to fit a normal filling because of significant decay or damage in the tooth. Where possible, it is often used in the place of a crown- which can be a more invasive procedure and requires more tooth preparation compared to an inlay or onlay.

Inlays and onlays are most commonly used to restore function on the biting surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars) where they can help to restore strength and function.

Traditionally, gold has been used to make inlays and onlays because it is a hard wearing material and lasts for a long time. With advances in technology, gold has become less popular as a material for making inlays and onlays and tooth-coloured materials such as ceramic and composite have become the preferred materials as they are equally hard wearing and long lasting but can also offer a more natural life like appearance.

Inlays and onlays are usually created outside the mouth by a highly skilled technician/ceramist, with the aid of impressions taken of your teeth. While these are being made, your Leicester dentist will fit a temporary covering over your tooth. When your custom made inlay or onlay is ready for fitting your dentist will be able to cement/bond it into place using a special adhesive, after removing the temporary covering – fitting it within the confines of your other teeth so that it feels comfortable and natural.

Although more expensive, inlays and onlays are more hard-wearing than normal fillings. They can withstand larger forces and because they are very precise in their manufacture they fit the tooth perfectly making them easier to clean and helping to protect the tooth and gums from decay.

When properly maintained and looked after correctly an inlay or onlay can last for over 10 years.


  • What’s the difference between inlays and onlays?

    An inlay fits within the cusps of your back teeth and covers a small region of the chewing surface of the tooth. If the restoration covers one or more of the outer cusps it is an onlay. An onlay is used when the damage is more extensive and the restoration covers the entire chewing surface including one or more tooth cusps.

  • Why would I need to have one of these restorations?

    When a tooth has suffered damage (from decay or trauma, for example), and the affected area is too large to fill with a normal filling — but not large enough to need a full crown (cap) — then an inlay or onlay may be just right. Both of these procedures are considered “indirect restorations,” because the restoration itself is custom made in a laboratory and then cemented/bonded to the tooth.

  • What is the procedure for getting an inlay or onlay?

    It will normally take at least two appointments to shape your tooth and then subsequently fit your inlay/onlay.

    Firstly, your tooth will be anaesthetized before any decay or old fillings in the tooth will need to be removed and the cavity will be cleaned and prepared to the best. Impressions of the mouth are taken and used to produce your inlay/onlay which should be ready within 2 weeks. A shade of your natural tooth colour is recorded to assist the technician to produce a natural looking restoration. A temporary restoration will be fitted to protect the prepared cavity.

    At your second appointment we will ensure that the size and fit of the inlay/onlay is correct and that it feels comfortable when you bite.

    Only when you are completely happy it will be bonded to your tooth with a dental adhesive.

  • Looking after your new inlay or onlay

    Both inlays and onlays are strong and long-lasting restorations that need no more care than you would normally give your teeth: namely, regular brushing and flossing,

    When your inlay/onlay is first fitted it may feel slightly strange until you get used to it. Be careful when biting on the tooth- particularly in the first few days. Consider sticking with a softer diet for 24 hours or eat harder foods on the opposite side of your mouth.

    An inlay should be looked after in the same way as any of your other teeth to prevent the development of decay. If you experience any problems or pain contact us straight away.

    Remember to attend appointments with your dentist who can check the inlay/onlay for damage on a regular basis.