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Dental Inlays and Onlays


What are inlays and onlays?

The best explanation is that inlays and onlays are a medium between dental crowns and fillings. We use the modalities of treatment namely in the back of the mouth that has suffered moderate levels of decay. Teeth that have undergone fracturing or moderate amalgam or composite failures can be replaced with inlays or onlays. More serious damage will probably have to be resolved using a crown.

There are two types of inlays and onlays which are made from either resin or porcelain. These are much more appealing than the older Gold inlays and overlays. This often makes dental inlays and onlays a popular choice for those wishing to replace unattractive fillings made from metal.

How long do inlays and onlays last?

Inlays and onlays can potentially last for decades; however it does depend entirely on a number of factors. Factors like the material used, the state of the teeth being restored are determining factors in how long they last for. Fractures non-evident to the naked eye may preclude the tooth form fracturing further resulting in an overlay or inlay that is bigger or may even require a crown.

In our modern times bonding has become a more or less universally accepted by all. With the advent of excellent resin cements we are able to bond these inlays and onlays with high predictability. Although ceramics are used more conventionally, we at Serenity Dental advocate various polymer and poly-ceramic materials, which unlike their pure ceramic counterparts (which is very brittle) can withstand more flexibility and does not crack that easily.

An added advantage to these resin based materials is antagonistic (opposing) enamel wear similar to that of resin material, unlike ceramics which cause extensive abrasion of the occluding antagonist teeth. Coupled with the fact that these materials also offer a high wear resistance these materials can offer exciting restorative possibilities.

Other factors that affect the longevity of inlays and onlays are very dependent on the patient’s actions after the filling like product has been cemented. Choice of food as well as how hard one chews are also contributing factors to how long our restoration lasts. Para function (Grinding or excessive clenching) and poor oral hygiene will also affect the life span of our inlays or onlays. One should visit the dentist regularly to ensure these restorations remain intact.

How are inlays and onlays applied?

At Serenity Dental we are able to offer cad-cam technology to fix your inlays or onlays onto the teeth. These inlays can be down chair side or we have the facility of a Lab Cerec ® machine to fabricate your inlays or onlays. In the latter a conventional impression is taken in the morning and your restorations can be finished the same day or the next without you having to spend hours in the chair. Furthermore in house dental technicians will ensure these inlays crowns etc look and function like teeth.

Benefits of inlays and onlays!

There are a number of positive benefits using dental inlays and onlays. Primarily they are very useful in treating tooth decay as well as getting rid of tooth sensitivity.

Other benefits include:

  • Using tooth coloured materials makes the inlays and onlays         “invisible” so your smile is attractive;
  • Since these inlays are not made of “metal” they will not change in shape or size if the teeth are subjected to changes in temperature;
  • More of your tooth structure can be maintained.
  • Inlays and onlays can strengthen the tooth in question by up to 75% thanks to the quality of the inlay material used as well as the bonding techniques used.


There extremely limited number of risks associated with dental inlays and onlays. Very rarely one can be allergic to the material used. Some people may experience hypersensitivity, especially when close to the nerve.

We at Serenity Dental Clinic’s highly recommend these inlays and onlays, because their benefits which far outweigh any risks. We also see this as a way to conservatively restore teeth before we viciously crown a tooth.

Of you have unsightly amalgam pr composite filings or think you’re a good candidate for such treatment, give us a call at any one of our centres.