Dental Inlays and Onlays

Frequently Asked Questions (Click on Questions to See Answers)

A - Dental inlays or onlays are in essence filling materials that are gold coloured or made from porcelain or composite resin to fill tooth cavities caused by decay. The inlays and onlays are commonly used to restore and repair back teeth. The dental inlay is the smaller bite or indented surface of the tooth while the onlay usually covers the wider cusp or projected top part of the tooth.

A - Anyone with a tooth cavity caused by decay or damage to the tooth may need a filling that could be amalgam, composite, glass ionomer, or a gold or porcelain inlay or onlay. The position and size of the cavity will influence whether the customised filling is an inlay, onlay or both. The dental inlays and onlays can be made from tooth-coloured materials and are also sometimes used cosmetically to replace older metal fillings for a more natural look.

A - Dental inlays and onlays are fillings securely bonded to the tooth surface to restore teeth damaged by cavities. Once filled, the tooth structure is strengthened and protected from cavity-forming bacteria. Onlays covering the top layer of the tooth protect it from further damage and decay, reducing the need for further treatments like dental crowns, implants or bridges.

A - Using CEREC CAD or CAM technology for digital imaging, our resident dentist will diagnose whether or not your teeth have any cavities and will also evaluate your teeth structure and alignment.

If a cavity or cavities are identified, our resident dentist will discuss filling options with you. If dental inlays or onlays are needed in your case, this will be explained to you along with the materials used. With your agreement, an appointment will be made for the filling inlay or onlay treatment.

The inlays or onlays are made in the laboratory according to the specifications from the digital image of your tooth with the cavity. The material used may be natural tooth-resembling porcelain that is moulded to suit your natural tooth surfaces. Your teeth will then be cleaned and prepared for the filling by either removal of the old filling or cleaning and disinfecting of the cavity space. The porcelain (or gold) inlay or onlay is then fitted through composite bonding to your tooth.

Our resident dentist will explain the procedure specific to your treatment to you and feel free to bring any questions that you have with you.

A - A qualified General or Cosmetic Dentist trained in cavity-filling procedures can provide dental inlay or onlay treatment to strengthen the existing teeth and to protect the teeth from infection, decay and gum disease.

A - Filling a tooth cavity is very important to protect the tooth from infection. Plaque and tartar easily builds up when food gets attached within the cavity and around the tooth. Even teeth cleaning may not remove the plaque and tartar build-up that causes infection, tooth decay and gum disease. If left untreated the entire tooth may have to be extracted, or the tooth may rot and fall out. Infection can also spread from the tooth root canals through the blood stream to the rest of the body causing physical illness, such as migraine, hypertension, and heart disease. A gap left by a tooth can cause teeth to become misaligned and improper bite that affects chewing of food and also speech pronunciation. All these effects can reduce self-esteem and facial appearance.

A - Depending on the type of material used, such as gold, composite resin, or porcelain, the durability of the inlay or onlay may vary. Other factors affecting how long inlays and onlays last is the overall health of the individual, their oral hygiene standards, and how often the dentist is visited for recommended check-up.

A - The different types of dental inlays and onlays depends on the material and technology used to design and make the filling. The materials may be gold, composite resin or porcelain. Dental putty may be used for a tooth mould after radiographs or X-rays are taken, or CEREC technology may be used to gain a digital image of the tooth structure and gum contours that provides the specification for the inlay and onlay to be fabricated.

A - Dental inlays and onlays are usually recommended when there is a cavity that has damaged either the indented part of a tooth or the projected upper surface. If a cavity is not present, then an inlay or onlay filling may not be necessary. Should a patient have a pre-existing health condition that places them at risk for the filling procedure, or if a patient is pregnant, then inlay or onlay treatment may not be recommended.

A - Dentists are trained on how to fill cavities using safe materials and procedures. It is vital for patients to inform dentists of any existing medical conditions and any medications taken that can put them at risk during the cavity-filling procedure.

Fillings, such as mercury amalgam, are now being  replaced with much safer options, such as porcelain or composite resin fillings. These newer materials have been tried and tested to specifically reduce harm for best patient practice and care.

Our resident dentist will inform you of the types of anaesthetics available for pain-free treatment and also sedative options for greater relaxation before and during procedures. Depending on the type of treatments needed, a prescription may be provided as part of after-treatment.

A - The cost of dental inlay or onlay fillings depends on the type and extent of treatment needed, the kind of materials used, the dental practice pricing structures and the payment plans available. Our resident dentist can discuss all these factors with you so that you receive the affordable treatment you need.

A - The alternatives to dental inlays and onlays is in the type of materials used to create the filling, such as gold, amalgam, composite resin or porcelain. The choice of filling depends on the patient’s budget and also on the procedures available at their dental practice of choice. Our resident dentist can advise you on treatment types for dental inlays and onlays, and will answer any questions that you have about the procedures.