Dental Health Topics

Inlays & Onlays

If your tooth has more than just a small amount of decay, it does not necessarily mean that you need to get a full crown. Inlays and onlays are more conservative options, fitting into a tooth similar to a filling.

So what is the difference between inlays and onlays?
  • Inlays are used to restore small areas of decay and/or cover the grooves of the teeth.
  • Onlays are used for larger areas of decay to restore one or more cusps or corners of a tooth.
Not every situation is right for an inlay or onlay, but a dentist will assess your problem and determine the best solution for you.

Because they are created in a lab like a crown, inlays and onlays require two appointments. At the first visit, your dentist will prepare your tooth by removing your tooth decay or old filling and cleaning the area. A dental impression will then be taken and send it to a dental lab so that a technician can create a custom inlay or onlay for you.

The dentist will determine the best material to use, but in most cases, teeth that show when you smile or speak can have a white restoration. Back teeth incur extreme pressure, so a metal inlay or onlay may be indicated. You'll wear a temporary until the lab delivers your final restoration.

At the second appointment, the dentist will remove your temporary and permanently cement your final inlay or onlay into position. After polishing and modifying the restoration as necessary to ensure proper bite alignment, you'll enjoy your stronger, healthier smile for years to come.