4.9 Patient Rating on

Google logo
Prestwich Dental Clinic

Dental Inlays and Onlays

Find out more about our dental inlays and onlays.

Support For
Nervous Patients

Flexible Dental
Payment Plans

Warm & Welcoming

Damaged Teeth? Talk to Us about Our Dental Inlays and Onlays

In cases where there is too much tooth missing to fill the tooth directly, you may be offered an inlay or onlay. These are similar to a filling but a physical or digital impression is taken and the inlay or onlay is then made in a laboratory and cemented into place by your dentist. Whilst your inlay or onlay is being made, you will have a temporary filling to protect the tooth. We now have a CEREC machine which means we can often make and fit the inlay or onlay on the day of your appointment. One significant benefit of an inlay or only treatment, as opposed to a crown, is that they require less filing down of tooth tissue and can be made of many different materials. The most aesthetically pleasing material ceramic. Call our caring team on 0161 773 7080 today.

Inlay or Onlay –What’s the Difference?

An inlay sits in the tooth where a cavity is too large to fill with a general filling. The inlay used to is created to the exact shape and size of the cavity in the tooth and cemented in place. The inlay does not cover the cusp of the tooth. On the other hand, an onlay covers the cusp of the tooth, as well as the top of the tooth. In comparison to a crown, less of the tooth structure needs to be removed for an onlay to be put in place. The special shape of an onlay protects the tooth from damage while retaining as much of the tooth as possible.

The Process Of Fitting Your Onlay/Inlay

Depending on the extent of the repair required, in some cases, the full top surface of the tooth is removed. A full onlay is then produced to replace the biting surface.

Dental Maintenance Plans

We offer a comprehensive membership plan which provides many benefits as well as 20% off treatment* and starts from as little as £9.99/month adults/£5.99/month children – please ask at reception or call us at 0161 773 7080

Inlays Prestwich, Manchester - FAQs

What are Dental Inlays?

Dental inlays are a form of restorative treatment used to repair teeth that have moderate decay or damage. Unlike fillings, which are moulded into place within the mouth during a dental visit, inlays are fabricated in a dental laboratory and then securely fitted to the damaged area of the tooth. Inlays are typically made from materials such as porcelain, composite resin, or sometimes gold, providing a durable and aesthetically pleasing solution.

How Do Dental Inlays Differ from Fillings?

The primary difference between dental inlays and fillings lies in their construction and application. Fillings are directly applied to the cavity and shaped within the mouth, whereas inlays are custom-made in a dental laboratory and then cemented into place. Inlays offer a more precise fit and superior strength, making them ideal for larger cavities or areas where chewing forces are greatest. They are also more durable and less likely to discolour over time compared to traditional fillings.

Understanding the Benefits of Inlays

Inlays are not only a practical solution for tooth restoration but also offer several advantages for dental health and aesthetics. They provide a superior fit, maintaining the integrity of the tooth and preventing further decay. The materials used in inlays, such as porcelain, mimic the natural appearance of teeth, ensuring a more natural and attractive look.

Durability and Longevity

Inlays are known for their durability and can last for many years, making them a cost-effective long-term solution. Their resistance to wear and staining ensures that they maintain their appearance and functionality over time.

Improved Oral Hygiene

Due to their custom fit, inlays make it easier to maintain good oral hygiene. They fit seamlessly with the natural tooth, reducing the likelihood of food particles and bacteria accumulating and leading to further decay.

Preserving Tooth Structure

Inlays require minimal removal of the tooth structure, helping to preserve the natural tooth. This approach is beneficial in maintaining the strength and health of the tooth over the long term.

Choosing the Right Option for Tooth Restoration

Deciding between inlays and other forms of dental restorations depends on various factors, including the extent of tooth decay, the location of the tooth, and aesthetic considerations. A dental professional can provide guidance on the most suitable option for individual needs, ensuring effective and long-lasting results.

Inlays and onlays are fabricated from various materials, each offering unique benefits in terms of strength, aesthetics, and compatibility. The choice of material typically depends on the tooth’s location, the extent of the damage, and personal preferences regarding aesthetics and cost.

Popular Materials for Inlays and Onlays

The most commonly used materials for inlays and onlays include porcelain, composite resin, and gold. Each of these materials has distinct characteristics suitable for different dental needs and preferences.


Porcelain is favoured for its aesthetic appeal as it closely resembles the natural colour and texture of teeth. It is a strong, durable material ideal for inlays and onlays, especially in the visible areas of the mouth. Porcelain is also highly resistant to staining, making it an excellent choice for maintaining a natural and bright smile.

Composite Resin

Composite resin is another popular material due to its ability to be closely matched with the natural tooth colour. It is a versatile material that can be easily shaped and polished to blend seamlessly with the surrounding teeth. Composite resin is suitable for patients looking for a more cost-effective option that still provides good durability and aesthetics.


Gold has been used for many years in dentistry and is known for its exceptional durability and strength. While it does not match the natural tooth colour, gold is an excellent material for inlays and onlays in the back teeth, where it offers longevity and resistance to wear.

Choosing the Right Material

The choice of material for inlays and onlays should be made after consulting with a dental professional. Factors such as the tooth’s location, the extent of repair needed, aesthetic preferences, and budget are important considerations. The right material will ensure that the inlay or onlay is not only functional but also complements the overall appearance of your smile.

Dental inlays and onlays are known for their durability and longevity. The lifespan of these restorations can vary depending on several factors, including the material used, the location of the inlay or onlay, the quality of dental work, and the patient’s oral hygiene practices.

Expected Lifespan of Inlays and Onlays

Typically, inlays and onlays can last anywhere from 5 to 30 years. The wide range in lifespan is influenced by the type of material used and the care taken to maintain them.

Influence of Material on Longevity

Porcelain and composite resin inlays and onlays are popular for their aesthetic qualities, and they can last for over a decade with proper care. Gold inlays and onlays, known for their strength and durability, can often last even longer, sometimes up to 30 years.

Factors Affecting Durability

The longevity of inlays and onlays is also affected by the location in the mouth, the amount of force exerted on them through biting and chewing, and the precision of the fit during placement. Additionally, personal oral hygiene practices play a significant role. Regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups can extend the life of these restorations.

Maintenance and Care

Good oral hygiene practices, including regular brushing and flossing, are essential for maintaining the integrity of inlays and onlays. It’s also important to avoid habits that can damage them, such as teeth grinding or chewing on hard objects. Regular dental check-ups allow for early detection and intervention if any issues arise, further extending the lifespan of the inlays or onlays.

Replacement and Long-Term Care

Over time, inlays and onlays may require replacement due to normal wear or potential damage. Regular dental visits are crucial for monitoring the condition of inlays and onlays. If replacement is necessary, a dental professional can advise on the best course of action, ensuring continued oral health and functionality.

Enhancing the Durability of Restorations

To maximize the lifespan of inlays and onlays, it is advisable to follow a comprehensive oral hygiene routine and seek regular professional dental care. Avoiding hard or sticky foods that can place undue stress on restorations is also beneficial.

Professional Assessments for Longevity

Regular dental assessments provide an opportunity for professionals to examine the condition of inlays and onlays, addressing any issues before they become significant. This proactive approach contributes to the long-term success and durability of these dental restorations.

The process of getting a dental inlay or onlay typically involves several steps, from the initial consultation to the final placement. It’s a precise procedure that ensures a high-quality and durable restoration.

Initial Consultation and Examination

The first step in getting an inlay or onlay is a comprehensive dental examination. During this visit, the dentist assesses the extent of tooth decay or damage and discusses the most suitable treatment options. This may include taking X-rays or making impressions of the teeth.

Preparation of the Tooth

Once it’s determined that an inlay or onlay is the appropriate treatment, the dentist prepares the tooth. This involves removing the decayed or damaged area of the tooth. The amount of tooth structure removed depends on the extent of the damage.

Taking an Impression

After the tooth is prepared, an impression of the tooth is taken. This impression is then sent to a dental laboratory, where the inlay or onlay is custom-made to fit the tooth precisely. The material used for the inlay or onlay is chosen based on the location of the tooth and aesthetic considerations.

Temporary Restoration

While the inlay or onlay is being fabricated, a temporary restoration may be placed to protect the tooth and maintain its functionality. This temporary covering ensures that the tooth remains comfortable and functional between appointments.

Placement of the Inlay or Onlay

Once the inlay or onlay is ready, the dentist removes the temporary restoration and fits the new inlay or onlay onto the tooth. Adjustments are made as necessary to ensure a perfect fit and bite alignment. The inlay or onlay is then bonded to the tooth using a strong dental adhesive, and polished for a smooth finish.

Final Adjustments and Follow-Up

After the placement, the dentist checks and adjusts the restoration to ensure optimal fit and comfort. Follow-up appointments may be scheduled to monitor the inlay or onlay and to make any necessary adjustments.

Post-Treatment Care

Proper oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups are essential for maintaining the integrity of the inlay or onlay. The dentist provides specific care instructions to ensure the longevity and success of the restoration.

Inlays, onlays, and crowns are all types of dental restorations used to repair damaged teeth. While they serve similar purposes, there are distinct differences in their application and the extent of coverage they provide to the tooth.

Inlays vs. Onlays

Inlays and onlays are both used to repair damage to the tooth’s biting surface. The key difference lies in the amount of tooth surface they cover. Inlays fit within the cusps, or bumps, of a tooth, similar to a filling but are pre-made in a lab. Onlays, on the other hand, cover one or more cusps or the entire biting surface of the tooth. They are used when the damage is more extensive and includes the tooth’s cusps or the tooth’s entire biting surface.

Extent of Tooth Coverage

Inlays are smaller and less invasive than onlays, as they are confined to the area within the cusps of the tooth. Onlays are more extensive and can be considered a conservative alternative to a crown, offering more coverage than an inlay but less than a full crown.

Comparison with Crowns

Crowns differ from inlays and onlays in that they cover the entire visible part of the tooth. A crown is used when the tooth is extensively damaged or weakened and needs more coverage and support than what an inlay or onlay can provide. Crowns encase the entire tooth, restoring its shape, size, strength, and appearance.

Decision Factors for Treatment

The choice between an inlay, onlay, or crown depends on the extent of the tooth’s damage and the amount of remaining healthy tooth structure. Inlays are suitable for small to medium cavities, onlays for larger cavities involving one or more cusps, and crowns for extensively damaged teeth.

Conservation of Tooth Structure

Inlays and onlays are often preferred over crowns when possible, as they require the removal of less natural tooth structure. This conservation approach is beneficial for the long-term health and integrity of the tooth.


Understanding the differences between inlays, onlays, and crowns is crucial for making informed decisions about dental treatments. Each type of restoration has its specific indications, benefits, and considerations. A dental professional can provide guidance on the most appropriate option based on the individual condition of the tooth and overall oral health.

Inlays are a durable form of dental restoration, but like any dental work, they can sometimes be damaged. The possibility and method of repair for a damaged inlay depend on the extent and nature of the damage.

Evaluating the Damage

The first step in addressing a damaged inlay is to have it evaluated by a dentist. The dentist will assess the extent of the damage and determine whether a repair is possible or if the inlay needs to be replaced.

Minor Damage

In cases of minor damage, such as small chips or cracks, it may be possible to repair the inlay. This can often be done without removing the inlay from the tooth. The repair process typically involves using a composite resin material to fill in the damaged area and then reshaping and polishing the inlay to restore its appearance and function.

Significant Damage

For more significant damage, such as large fractures or extensive wear, the inlay may need to be replaced. This involves removing the old inlay, preparing the tooth again, taking a new impression, and placing a new inlay.

Factors Influencing Repairability

Several factors influence the repairability of an inlay, including the material it’s made from, the size and location of the damage, and the overall condition of the surrounding tooth structure. For instance, porcelain inlays can be more challenging to repair than composite ones and might often require replacement.

Prevention of Future Damage

To prevent future damage to inlays, patients are advised to maintain good oral hygiene, avoid biting on hard objects, and wear a mouthguard if they have habits like teeth grinding. Regular dental check-ups are also essential to monitor the condition of the inlay and address any issues promptly.

Professional Assessment and Treatment

If an inlay is damaged, it is important to consult a dentist as soon as possible. They will provide a professional assessment and recommend the best course of action, whether it be repair or replacement, to ensure the ongoing health and functionality of the tooth.

When considering dental inlays, a common concern is their impact on tooth sensitivity. Understanding how inlays affect sensitivity is important for patients experiencing or worried about this issue.

Impact of Inlays on Sensitivity

In general, inlays are designed to protect and restore the tooth, which can help reduce sensitivity caused by decay or damaged tooth structure. However, some patients may experience temporary sensitivity following the placement of an inlay.

Temporary Sensitivity Post-Procedure

After the placement of an inlay, it is not uncommon to experience temporary sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. This typically results from the process of removing decayed material and cleaning the tooth, which can irritate the nerve. Usually, this sensitivity diminishes over a few days to a couple of weeks.

Long-Term Sensitivity Reduction

In the long term, inlays can actually help reduce tooth sensitivity. By restoring the integrity of the tooth and providing a protective barrier, inlays can shield the nerve from irritants like extreme temperatures, sweet foods, or acidic substances.

Factors Influencing Sensitivity

Several factors can influence sensitivity after inlay placement, such as the depth of the decay, the material used for the inlay, and the patient’s overall dental health. Inlays made from materials like porcelain or composite resin, which are less conductive, may help reduce sensitivity compared to other materials.

Ensuring Proper Fit

A correctly fitted inlay is crucial for minimising sensitivity. An inlay that does not fit properly can create gaps and allow for temperature fluctuations to reach the nerve, increasing sensitivity. Regular follow-up visits ensure the inlay remains properly seated and functional.

Addressing Persistent Sensitivity

If sensitivity persists or worsens after the placement of an inlay, it’s important to consult a dentist. They can determine if the sensitivity is related to the inlay or if another dental issue is present, and provide appropriate treatment or adjustments to the inlay if necessary.

Proper care and maintenance of your inlay or onlay are crucial for ensuring its longevity and effectiveness. Following your dentist’s advice and adopting good oral hygiene practices will help you maintain your dental restoration for many years.

Immediate Care Post-Treatment

After the placement of an inlay or onlay, it is normal to experience some sensitivity. During this period, it is advisable to avoid very hot or cold foods and beverages. Chewing on the treated side of your mouth should also be avoided until the numbness from the procedure has completely worn off.

Maintaining Oral Hygiene

Good oral hygiene is essential for the longevity of your inlay or onlay. Regular brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and using an antiseptic mouthwash can help prevent decay and gum disease, which can affect the longevity of your restoration.

Regular Dental Check-Ups

Regular check-ups with your dentist are important. These visits allow your dentist to monitor the condition of your inlay or onlay and address any issues early on. Your dentist can also provide professional cleanings, which help maintain the health of the restored tooth and surrounding gums.

Avoiding Hard Foods

Although inlays and onlays are durable, it is wise to avoid biting down on hard foods or objects, as these can potentially damage the restoration. Foods like hard candy, ice, or nuts should be consumed cautiously.

Addressing Bruxism or Teeth Grinding

If you have a habit of grinding your teeth, it’s important to address this issue to protect your inlay or onlay. Your dentist may recommend wearing a nightguard to prevent damage caused by grinding during sleep.

Long-Term Care and Maintenance

Long-term care for an inlay or onlay involves consistent oral hygiene practices and avoiding habits that could damage the restoration. If any issues such as discomfort or loosening of the restoration arise, it is important to consult your dentist immediately for appropriate care and intervention.

While dental inlay and onlay treatments are generally safe and effective, as with any dental procedure, there are some risks involved. It’s important for patients to be aware of these potential risks to make informed decisions about their dental care.

Possible Risks and Complications

Most risks associated with inlay and onlay treatments are rare and can be effectively managed by a dental professional. However, being aware of these potential issues is crucial.

Sensitivity and Discomfort

Some patients may experience temporary sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures following the procedure. In most cases, this sensitivity diminishes over time. Discomfort immediately after the procedure is also common but usually subsides within a few days.

Improper Fit

One of the challenges of inlay and onlay treatment is ensuring a perfect fit. An improperly fitted inlay or onlay can lead to discomfort, bite problems, or further decay if food and bacteria become trapped.

Risk of Infection

As with any dental procedure, there is a small risk of infection. This risk can be minimised through proper sterilisation techniques and following post-treatment care instructions provided by your dentist.

Allergic Reactions

Although rare, some patients may have an allergic reaction to the materials used in inlays or onlays, such as metal or resin. It is important to discuss any known allergies with your dentist before the procedure.

Long-Term Risks

Over time, inlays and onlays may wear down or become loose, potentially leading to decay underneath the restoration. Regular dental check-ups are essential to monitor the condition of inlays and onlays and address any issues promptly.

Fracture of the Restoration

There is a small risk that the inlay or onlay could crack or fracture, especially if subjected to excessive force or pressure. Avoiding hard foods and not using teeth as tools can help prevent such damage.

Discussing Risks with Your Dentist

Before undergoing inlay or onlay treatment, it’s important to discuss all potential risks and benefits with your dentist. This discussion will help you make an informed decision about your dental care and understand how to properly care for your restoration.

After the placement of a dental inlay or onlay, there are certain foods and drinks that should be avoided to ensure the longevity and effectiveness of the restoration. Being mindful of your diet post-treatment is important for the healing process and maintaining oral health.

Foods and Drinks to Avoid

Certain foods and drinks can be detrimental to the newly placed inlay or onlay, especially in the initial days following the procedure.

Hard or Crunchy Foods

Avoiding hard or crunchy foods is advisable as they can put undue pressure on the new restoration, potentially leading to damage. Foods like nuts, hard candies, and ice should be consumed with caution.

Sticky or Chewy Foods

Sticky or chewy foods can dislodge or damage inlays and onlays. Items such as gum, caramel, or taffy are best avoided in the days following the treatment.

Extreme Temperature Foods and Drinks

Immediately after the procedure, your tooth may be sensitive to extreme temperatures. It’s recommended to avoid very hot or cold foods and drinks, such as ice cream, hot beverages, or cold smoothies, to prevent discomfort.

Highly Coloured Foods and Beverages

Highly coloured foods and drinks, like coffee, tea, red wine, and berries, can stain the restoration material over time. While inlays and onlays are more resistant to staining than natural teeth, it is still advisable to consume these in moderation.

Alcoholic Beverages

Alcoholic beverages should be consumed with caution as they can interact with any pain medication prescribed post-treatment. Additionally, alcohol can have a drying effect on the mouth, which is not conducive to healing.

Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene

Alongside dietary considerations, maintaining good oral hygiene is crucial. Regular brushing and flossing will help keep your inlay or onlay clean and prevent decay.

Consulting with Your Dentist

It is important to follow any specific dietary recommendations provided by your dentist. They can offer tailored advice based on your individual treatment and dental health.

Scroll to Top