Inlays and onlays offer a well-fitting, stronger and more long-lasting solution to treat decayed teeth compared with a traditional dental filling.

Rather than a filling which is constructed in the mouth during a dental visit, an inlay or onlay is made by a dental technician in a laboratory or by the dentist in surgery on the Cerec machine, before being fitted and bonded to the damaged tooth.

Inlays and onlays can be made from gold, porcelain or other resin materials. The dentist will be able to discuss the different options with you, depending on the restoration required.

Inlays and onlays are very stable restorations and as such there is a very low risk of them failing.


The inlay or onlay will either be prepared and fitted at two separate appointments spaced a week to ten days apart or if our Cerec machine can be used they may be fitted in one visit.

For a laboratory made inlay or onlay, at the first appointment the tooth will be prepared and impressions taken. The dentist will also match the shade of the onlay or inlay to your teeth so it should be barely visible when it is fitted. These are then sent to the laboratory for a custom-made inlay or only to the created. This will normally take between one to two weeks and during this time the dentist will put a temporary filling in place to protect your tooth.

At your second appointment the temporary will be removed and the inlay or onlay fitted using a strong adhesive. The dentist will check to ensure that the inlay or onlay is sitting correctly within your bite and adjust it as necessary for a perfect fit.

If the Cerec machine is used, the tooth will still be prepared, but instead of taking impressions, the dentist will spray the teeth with a powder, which allows us to take photos of the teeth.

The computer then forms a 3d image of your teeth based on the precise measurements made via the camera. The dentist will then begin to form the inlay or onlay on the computer. This can take some time, so at this point we can return you to the waiting room. It may be an idea to bring a book! The inlay or onlay will take about 20 minutes to make.

Benefits of inlay and onlays

Inlays and onlays offer a conservative treatment option – They preserve as much as possible of the healthy tooth.

Inlays and onlays help to strengthen and preserve the tooth – They can also help to strengthen the tooth and increase its longevity.

Inlays and onlays are long lasting – Provided that they are properly cared for, inlays and onlays can last for over 10 years.