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What are Inlays and onlays?

Inlays and onlays can be used instead of fillings and are both made outside the mouth. They are normally made in a dental laboratory and then glued to the tooth. An inlay sits in a hole in the tooth, whereas an outlay sits on it and builds up the shape of the tooth. They can either be made out of tooth-coloured porcelain, gold or composite. The material that is used will depend on where the it is going to be fitted, as different materials are suitable for different parts of the teeth and mouth.

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What will this treatment involve?

* Your dentist will normally perform this treatment under a local anaesthetic to numb the area around your tooth.

* If necessary, your dentist will then remove any old filling and any decayed or damaged tooth.

* A soft, mouldable material will be used to make an 'impression' of the tooth that is being repaired and the teeth around it. This will then be passed to a dental technician to make the inlay or onlay Whilst your inlay or onlay is being made, your dentist will fit a temporary filling to protect the tooth that is being repaired.

* On your next visit, your dentist will glue the inlay or onlay and will make any necessary adjustments to ensure that it is comfortable.

What are the benefits of inlays and onlays?

* They are both strong and can last longer than fillings.

* Unlike white fillings, they are particularly suitable for the chewing surfaces of back teeth. They are also good for large repairs to the front teeth, where it can be difficult to make a white filling look natural.

* Your dentist will be able to match the colour to your own teeth.