Inlays & Onlays

While dentists typically use fillings to treat ordinary cavities, they aren’t always enough to restore teeth suffering from severe decay. To repair an especially damaged tooth, modern dentists often recommend onlays or inlays, which effectively restore a tooth’s function, while improving its appearance.

What are Inlays & Onlays?

Inlays and onlays are special types of fillings that serve as a custom-fitted covering over an especially large cavity or missing portion of a tooth. Unlike traditional fillings, onlays and inlays are crafted in a lab to create a customized fit, which can be made to closely resemble natural teeth.

An ideal candidate will have suffered too much decay or damage in a tooth to successfully restore function using a traditional filling. That said, he or she will also have sufficient healthy tooth remaining to potentially avoid needing a full crown. By applying an onlay or inlay, the dentist can conserve more of the patient’s original tooth structure.

Although onlays and inlays are similar, there are some key differences. While inlays fit within the cusp tips of a tooth much like traditional fillings, onlays are more extensive, extending over the cusps of a treated tooth. Your dentist will recommend one or the other based on the extent and location of the decay or damage to your tooth.

What to Expect

Getting an onlay or inlay is quite similar to getting a crown, except for one key difference: less of the natural tooth structure is removed. When a patient gets a crown, his or her tooth must undergo significant reshaping, so it will be able to snugly fit within its new covering. Since a dentist’s goal is always to preserve as much of the existing natural tooth as possible, onlays or inlays are often recommended for patients who can benefit from a more conservative treatment strategy.

During the procedure, the dentist starts by numbing the tooth and surrounding tissue, using a local anesthetic. The dentist will then remove decay to prevent it from spreading deeper within the tooth. Once the tooth is properly prepared, the dentist will take an impression, either digitally or using a putty-like material. The impression is then sent to a laboratory, where the onlay or inlay is created out of either metal or a tooth-colored resin or ceramic. Before you leave the dentist’s office, you will receive a temporary filling to protect the tooth until your permanent restoration is ready. When you return for your second visit, the dentist will affix the onlay or inlay using permanent cement or a resin that will harden when exposed to a special type of light.

Caring for your Restoration

Both onlays and inlays are long-lasting, durable and require no more care than a natural tooth. That said, you should continue your daily brushing and flossing routine and schedule regular professional cleanings at the dental office to prolong the life of your restoration and prevent other teeth from decaying.

How do I Make a Decision About this Treatment?

Upon your visit, your dentist can let you know if you have any cavities or other types of tooth damage. He or she can explain options for treatment, and make a professional assessment as to whether a standard filling or an inlay or onlay is the best way to address your situation.

How Much will Inlays or Onlays Cost?

The cost of all restoration procedures can vary, depending on your location and specific requirements. Your insurance plan may cover a portion of your total costs. Our staff is happy to explain costs, treatment alternatives and payment options, including potential in-house discount plans and financing options for patients who qualify.

How do I Book an Appointment?

Whether you haven’t seen a dentist in awhile, or you suspect that you may have an oral health issue that needs attention, give us a call today. Our friendly staff will be happy to find an appointment slot that works for you, even during evenings or weekends.