Your guide to dental fillings and dental inlays/onlays
Porcelain or gold inlays are used to repair minor damages to the teeth and dental onlays for greater damage. Dental inlays and onlays are also known as dental fillings or dental restoration.
Simply explained, dental fillings or dental inlays/onlays can be described as ‘partial crowns’ that are used in cases when there is enough healthy enamel left on a tooth, which is worth saving rather than putting a completely new, artificial dental crown.
Dental inlays resemble a small piece of puzzle, which is customized, fitted and glued into the remaining enamel, in order to restore the tooth’s strength and longevity. The inlays are normally made from either porcelain or gold.
What is the difference between a porcelain/gold inlay and a regular dental filling?
The main difference between an porcelain or gold inlay and a regular plastic dental filling is that an porcelain or gold inlay is used for larger dental restoration. whereas plastic fillings/restoration are used for smaller damages. The porcelain or gold inlays are stronger, last longer, look more cosmetically pleasing and can proivde a tighter fit between the tooth and the filling, than normal plastic fillings.
The dental inlays strength and durability, in combination with modern glue makes them a good option, when a plastic dental filling is not going to be enough, and there is no need to replace the entire tooth crown.
How the procedure is performed
To receive dental inlays or dental onlays, it requires two dentist appointments. At the first appointment, the tooth to be treated is examined and prepared. The teeth may also need to be filed down slightly, old fillings are to be removed and all of the decay/caries is also removed before a filling is placed.
Once the tooth is prepared, an imprint of the tooth is taken and sent, where the porcelain or gold inlay/onlay is made.. Finally, the dentist places a temporary filling and book in your next visit.
During the second appointment the temporary dental filling is removed. The dentist will then try out the gold inlay/onlay, making sure the fit is perfect. Thereafter it is glued into place with a strong glue, called bonding.
Porcelain inlays and onlays are virtually invisible and can last for 15 years, depending on the patients oral hygiene and care.
Gold inlays and onlays are also a very good treatment option and has most likely a longer life expectancy.
The cost of dental fillings – inlays/onlays
The cost of dental inlays and onlays depends on the material used, as well as size and design. In addition to the material cost, there will also be the clinic’s own treatment fees.
Below you can see a price estimate of the total cost for dental inlays and olays, including material cost and the average cost for the two visits at a private clinic:
- Porcelain inlays/onlays (the most common alternative): cost £300 – £700
- Gold inlays/onlays: cost £205 – £440
For greater tooth damage that involves the crowns outer section, a larger dental filling or restoration is used called an ’dental onlay’. The price for dental inlays and onlays depends on the material, size and design. In addition to the material cost, each clinician sets their own clinic fees.
Many times an onlay can be placed instead of a dental crown.
Below is a price estimate of the overall cost of an onlay, including the average cost of the two appointments:
- Porcelain inlays/onlays (the most common treatment option): cost £350 – £700
- Gold inlays/onlays: cost £250 – £500
Also note that the NHS may cover dental fillings/dental restoration if the treatment is to treat pain and restore function. The maximum fee on the NHS for patients requiring several porcelain fillings, onlays or inlays is £222.50. For those who are deemed unsuitable for NHS financing the option is visiting a private clinic.
For those who don’t have the opportunity or do not wish to pay for their dental inlays/onlays in cash, there are various financing options. You can read more about this on the page about loans and financing.