fillings, inlays and onlays

Fillings replace parts of the tooth that have been lost through wear, damage or decay. Your dentist will carefully remove any damage or decay and restore the tooth to its original size and shape with a strong and durable filling.

Where the nature of the damage or decay makes a filling impractical, the decayed or weak part of the tooth can be removed and replaced with an inlay or onlay - a replacement made to fit into the space left by the removed part of the tooth.
dental fillings

If a cavity is detected during a check-up, your dentist can provide a dental filling before it develops into a more serious problem. Dental fillings replace part of a tooth that has been lost because of decay, wear or accidental damage.

Fillings can be amalgam (silver coloured) or composite (tooth coloured) which gives a more natural look. Composite fillings give a variety of finishes, and can be made ti be virtually undetectable from a natural tooth.

Your dentist will prepare the tooth for the filling; numbing the area, removing any decay, old fillings or weak areas of the tooth, shape the hole so that the tooth holds the filling in place, then wash and dry the area by blowing water and air onto it. The filling is then placed into the tooth, and moulded into shape.

inlays and onlays

Inlays and onlays provide an alternative to fillings, replacing part of a tooth that has been lost because of decay, wear or accidental damage. They are stronger and can last longer than fillings, and are especially suitable for the chewing surfaces on back teeth and large repairs to front teeth.

Onlays and inlays can be made of metal, composite or porcelain - the latter results in a repair that is virtually undetectable.

An inlay sits in a hole in the tooth. An onlay sits on the tooth and builds up its shape.

The tooth is prepared in the same way as a filling (see above). Once prepared, an impression is taken of the tooth using a soft mouldable material. This is then given to a dental technician to build a bespoke inlay/onlay to the exact size and shape required.

A temporary filling is applied on the tooth, whilst the inlay/onlay is being built. When they are ready, your dentist will glue the inlay/onlay into place and make small adjustments to ensure a comfortable bite is maintained.


  • Q: Are there any risks from amalgam fillings?
    A: Mercury in dental amalgam is not poisonous. Once it is combined with the other materials in the amalgam filling, its chemical nature changes so that it is harmless. Research into the safety of dental amalgam has been carried out for over 100 years. So far, no reputable controlled studies have found a connection between amalgam fillings and any medical problem.

  • Q: Why should I consider white fillings?
    A: Most people have fillings of one sort or another in their mouths. Nowadays fillings are not only functional, but can be natural looking as well. Many people don’t want silver fillings that show when they laugh or smile because they are more conscious about the way they look.

  • Q: Do people die from mouth cancer?
    A: Yes. Nearly 1,700 people in the UK die from mouth cancer every year. Many of these deaths could be prevented if the cancer was caught early enough. As it is, people with mouth cancer are more likely to die than those with cervical cancer or melanoma skin cancer.

  • Q: Can mouth cancer be cured?
    A: If mouth cancer is spotted early, the chances of a complete cure are good. The smaller the area or ulcer the better the chance of a cure. However, too many people come forward too late, because they do not visit their dentist for regular examinations.