Know Your Tooth Repair: Inlays, Onlays, Fillings and Crowns—Which One Do You Need?

Maya Angelou, a famous poet and activist, once said, "If you have only one smile in you, give it to the people you love." A smile does so much to brighten another person's day, but some people hide their smiles because they don't like the condition of their teeth. If you are someone who has not been to the dentist in several years, you know that you need to go and see a cosmetic dentist to restore your smile to its former glory, but you are afraid of what procedures may lie ahead. When it comes to tooth repair, the process can be as simple as a filling or as complicated as a crown. Here's a quick guide to the different types of tooth repair, so that you are armed with knowledge before your dentist appointment.


A filling is the most simple of any cavity repair you can have done to your tooth. The decayed area is drilled out by your dentist, and then a filling is applied to this area to restore it to its original shape. You have two choices of filling material. These are either the silver amalgam filling or the white composite. The silver amalgam is the cheaper of the two choices, but the white composite matches the natural colour of your teeth.

Inlay or Onlay

When your tooth needs a little bit more repair than a filling provides, then your dentist may choose to do an inlay or an onlay. An inlay is when the missing piece of the tooth is moulded as a single inlay piece. It is then cemented into place on your tooth. An onlay is also a moulded single piece designed to fit exactly onto your tooth, but rather than it being inlaid in the centre of the tooth, it covers the centre and the edge of the tooth, so in essence, it sits on it rather than in it.


When there is not enough undamaged tooth left for a repair to be viable, then your dentist uses a crown if you wish to save the tooth rather than remove it. Firstly, they remove all the dental decay in the tooth. Then they make a tooth cap which fits on top of your tooth remains. This cap is called a crown, and it is cemented into place and is a perfect replica of the original tooth.

Now that you know what to expect when it comes to tooth repair, it is time to make an appointment with your dentist to get your smile restoration underway. For more information about cosmetic dentistry, talk to your dentist.