Ceramic Fillings - Ceramic Inlays

Ceramic filling

Ceramic fillings are dental fillings that are made of ceramic and bonded into the tooth. They are used as an alternative to plastic fillings, as there are various advantages in favor of ceramic.

A ceramic filling is also known as a ceramic inlay, as it is inserted and bonded into the tooth. A thin flowing plastic or cement is used as the material for fixing the ceramic inlay.

Materials for Ceramic Fillings

There are various ceramic materials that can be used for an inlay. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages and is suitable for dental restoration to varying degrees.

Glass Ceramic and Feldspar Ceramic

These two dental ceramics belong to the category of silicate ceramics and share similar properties. Both, glass ceramic and feldspar ceramic are aesthetically convincing and can also be used as veneers.

The stability of these ceramics is acceptable. Under greater forces, there is a risk of fracturing the ceramic inlay. Consequently, such inlays should be adhesively bonded with plastic.

The biocompatibility of these materials is very good.

These materials are most commonly used for ceramic inlays.

Hybrid Ceramic

This involves a framework made of silicate ceramic that is infiltrated with composite. Hybrid ceramic exhibits high resistance and elasticity, which helps in preventing cracks and fractures.

The attachment of these inlays should be done adhesively with composite.

The biocompatibility of these materials is good.

Zirconia Ceramic

Zirconia is a non-porous high-performance ceramic used in the production of ceramic implants. The addition of various oxides enables it to absorb strong forces, preventing cracks from spreading. Consequently, zirconia can withstand very high forces without breaking.

In the laboratory, the milled zirconia blank must be fired (sintered) at approximately 1200 degrees Celsius, causing it to shrink by about 20-30% and acquire high hardness.

Due to the firing process and high stability, zirconia does not dissolve and has a completely neutral effect on the body. Therefore, its biocompatibility is excellent.

Zirconia inlays can be attached either adhesively with composite or conventionally with cement. The choice of attachment method should always be made based on individual considerations.

Thanks to our own dental laboratory, we can produce high-quality, laboratory-made ceramic inlays in a single treatment. You are welcome to contact us at any time.

Procedure at the Dentist

Ceramic inlays are highly recommended in the following situations:

  • if an amalgam removal is necessary
  • if an old plastic filling or an old gold inlay is leaking and should be replaced
  • in the case of tooth decay requiring treatment

First, the amalgam fillings or plastic fillings and tooth decay are removed. The entire upper and lower jaw, including the resulting cavities, is photographed with an intraoral scanner. Digital impressions of the dentition can then be created and sent to the dental laboratory.

Digital impressions mean that unpleasant impressions with trays and paste can be avoided in most cases.

Production of Ceramic Fillings

In the production of ceramic fillings / ceramic inlays, a distinction is made between production in the dental laboratory by the dental technician and production using the CEREC process.

Both methods have their advantages and disadvantages and are suitable solutions for the production of precise ceramic inlays. Both methods can also be used to create natural and beautiful teeth in terms of esthetics.

Fabrication in the Laboratory

Fabrication in the dental laboratory offers exact precision and high quality in the fabrication of a ceramic filling.

The dental technician has the option of producing individual dental models from plaster or plastic and adapting the inlays precisely, and the material can also be fired and further refined, which increases the high quality of the material.

The dental technician also has many aesthetic options in the laboratory and can produce ceramic inlays that can be ideally integrated into the tooth.


CEREC stands for CEramic REConstruction. The digital impression is processed on a computer and sent to a milling machine in the dental practice. The milling machine grinds the ceramic filling from a ceramic block with a precise fit.

A major advantage of CEREC is the time saved for the patient. The inlay can be created and inserted in the same session. This is particularly advantageous if the patient comes from far away.

If the dentist has a lot of experience with the CEREC procedure, the ceramic fillings show a very good fit and precision.

Chairside Fabrication

Chairside fabrication describes the fabrication of ceramic restorations directly in the dental practice, at the treatment chair. This means that patients who have to travel a long way can be provided with high-quality ceramic inlays in a single treatment.

Chairside fabrication is possible with the help of CEREC or a dental laboratory in the dental practice.

Depending on the size of the defect and the choice of material, approx. 1 hour can be calculated per ceramic inlay.

Advantages of Ceramic Fillings

  • Ceramic fillings are highly durable and stable. If patients have a good bacterial flora, ceramic fillings can last a lifetime.
  • As the filling is adapted outside the mouth, the shape can be better reproduced according to the anatomical conditions. In this way, tooth contacts can be ideally adapted so that no food residue remains between the teeth.
  • The biological compatibility is best with ceramic inlays.

Disadvantages of Ceramic Fillings

  • For a ceramic filling to fit correctly, it is necessary to grind off a little more substance from the tooth.
  • Ceramic inlays are more complex to manufacture and process, which results in higher costs.

Costs of Ceramic Inlays

In general, the costs depend on the material used and the extent of the tooth defect.

For example, multi-surface ceramic fillings or partial crowns are more expensive than single-surface inlays.

A clinical examination is necessary in advance to obtain an exact cost estimate. This is because it is only possible to clarify exactly on site whether an inlay, onlay, partial crown or ceramic crown is the right treatment.

Alternatives to Ceramic Fillings

There are several alternatives to ceramic fillings. When choosing, particular attention should be paid to durability and biocompatibility. Plastic fillings, gold inlays and amalgam fillings are considered alternatives, but have different disadvantages that need to be taken into account.

Plastic Fillings

Fillings made of plastic have been tried and tested for many years and provide good care for the tooth. The fillings initially have a soft consistency and are inserted into the tooth defect and shaped by the dentist. They are then cured with a UV lamp to achieve the final hardness of the resin fillings.

Compared to ceramic fillings, resin fillings have disadvantages in terms of durability and biology.

In the case of larger defects in the tooth, the correct anatomical tooth shapes can only be restored to a limited extent, meaning that food debris can get stuck between the teeth. Especially in such cases, ceramic inlays are the better choice.

Gold Fillings / Gold Inlays

Gold fillings were often used in the past. They have a long durability and stability.

Due to various disadvantages, they are being used less and less:

  • Gold inlays have an unnatural, gold-colored aesthetic and tend to be rejected by patients.
  • Gold fillings are harmful to health. Gold consists of various metals that enter the body through corrosion and abrasion.
  • Gold fillings are relatively expensive due to the constantly rising price of gold.

Amalgam Fillings

Amalgam fillings are still preferred by many dentists because they have a very long service life and are easy for the dentist to handle.

However, this is offset by the following disadvantages:

  • Amalgam consists of 50% mercury and is very harmful to health.
  • Amalgam is silvery and aesthetically unpleasant.

The health aspect in particular speaks against placing amalgam in the teeth. Please read more about amalgam removal.

Dr. Markus Spalek

Ceramic fillings fulfill optimal requirements in terms of anatomy, longevity and biology. If you have any questions, we will be happy to help you.

Dr. Markus Spalek Dentist Winterthur

Frequently Asked Questions about Ceramic Inlays

Ceramic inlays are becoming increasingly popular because patients are recognizing the advantages over the alternatives. At Alpine BioDental, we specialize in ceramic fillings and are happy to assist you with any questions you may have.

Ceramic inlays can be bonded with resin or cemented with cement. Which method is used depends on the type of ceramic and the shape of the tooth defect.

When cementing, the dentist should ensure that no moisture reaches the material used, as it is sensitive to moisture.

We pay great attention to the compatibility and durability of the materials used.

Ceramic inlays can be made in one appointment. The production time is approx. 30 minutes to 1 hour per inlay, depending on the procedure and material. During this time, the treatment is interrupted and the patient has a break.

The incisors and canines can also be restored with ceramic inlays. If the ceramic restoration covers the entire front surface of the front teeth, it is referred to as a veneer.

Further information

Below is a list of relevant information to give you more insight into the topic.