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Fillings Inlays Onlays in Enniskillen

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What are dental fillings and why might I need one?

It's safe to say fillings are probably the most common dental procedure carried out, and at some stage in our lives most of us will usually need to get at least one of them.

Dental fillings are required when we develop holes in our teeth, caused by bacteria in the mouth. These holes are known by many different names such as tooth decay, cavities or dental caries.

Every time we eat the bacteria in our mouths are also able to feed, and after eating they produce an extremely strong and sticky acid layer, known commonly as plaque. If we don't remove plaque through careful brushing and flossing, we allow the bacterial acid to erode away tiny amounts of the tooth structure, day by day, until a hole forms in the tooth.

Unlike many other areas of the body, once a hole has formed in a tooth, the body is unable to repair this by itself. Therefore, in order to save the tooth from extraction, we must have these holes repaired professionally by our dentist using a hard tooth-like material.

Our team use many different types of dental fillings and techniques to treat dental cavities, such as

  • Amalgam, commonly known as 'silver' fillings
  • Composite, commonly known as 'white' fillings
  • Inlay filling
  • Onlay filling

Amalgam vs Composite fillings – what's the difference?

The most common types of fillings carried out are amalgam or composite, both of which are techniques that have been around for many years, although amalgam was adapted for dental use much earlier, over 100 years ago, composite fillings have gained significant popularity over the last 40+ years.

Amalgam fillings are made up of a mixture of metals including mercury, silver, copper, tin and zinc. Composite fillings, on the other hand, are made up of a tooth-coloured plastic resin, containing tiny pieces of silica. Both composite and amalgam are excellent choices when repairing small to medium-sized cavities. However, there are several extra benefits when choosing composite as your filling material:

  • Natural tooth-coloured appearance
  • Minimal preparation to the tooth, needing only to remove the damaged portion of the tooth before placing the filling, whereas an amalgam filling requires the removal of a larger amount of the natural tooth.
  • Composite is a material that bonds incredibly well to the natural tooth surface, creating a tight seal in order to keep bacteria at bay.
  • Composite fillings require a more technical approach; however, this, in turn, comes with a superior natural-looking result.

Inlay and Onlay fillings – What are they?

When a has been damaged past the point of being able to repair it with a traditional filling, but also not damaged enough to require a full crown, we end up somewhere in the middle. In these instances, large fillings can weaken the tooth's structure and cause it to break, while a dental crown is an unnecessary procedure that will remove more of the remaining healthy tooth structure than is needed.

This is where inlays and Onlays come in! These types of fillings are an alternative option to traditional fillings and bridge the gap between fillings and crowns. Dental inlays and Onlays are the same types of restoration, however, cover different parts of the tooth.

So, what is the difference between inlays and Onlays?

Inlays are used in a very similar way to a traditional filling in that they are required to fill cavities and holes in the teeth, these will be fitted into the grooves within the biting surfaces of the tooth. An Onlay will be required for larger areas and can also include the chewing surfaces the teeth. Onlays are more similar to crowns however they aren't required to cover the full surface of the tooth as a crown would. Essentially, both inlays and Onlays are made of the same type of material and serve to provide the same function, the difference is which area and how much of the tooth they cover.

What is the process if I need an inlay or Onlay?

Thankfully, at Belmore Dental implant clinic we are able to provide both inlays and Onlays as same-day restorations using our state-of-the-art CEREC milling machine. In the past, this type of restoration would require more than one visit to complete but not anymore! If you'd like to know more about the process of having a CEREC restoration please click here.

What are the benefits of this type of restoration?

  • Preservation of your natural tooth
  • Natural-looking restoration while still giving you the ability to bite and chew as normal
  • Improves your ability to keep the area clean when brushing
  • Durable, safe and long-lasting


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