Inlays / Onlays

What are inlays and onlays?

Inlays and onlays are often referred to as partial crowns. They help to restore a damaged or decayed tooth, are more durable than dental fillings, and require less tooth removal than dental crowns. Inlays and onlays may last up to 30 years if cared for properly. They are less expensive than crowns, easier to clean, and require less tissue removal.

What is the difference between an inlay vs. an onlay?

  • Inlays – are used when there is no damage to the cusps of the tooth, and it can be placed right on the tooth. They are usually smaller and fill the spaces between the cusps on the chewing surface of teeth.
  • Onlays – are larger, often covering one of more cusps on the chewing surface of teeth and sometimes the sides. Onlay’s are typically used when the damage is a little more extensive.

What to expect when having an inlay or onlay applied?

This treatment is different than a dental filling procedure because inlays and onlays are created outside of the mouth.

  • First, the dentist will numb your mouth with a local anesthetic and then drill away the decay.
  • Next, is the cleaning and preparation of the tooth for restoration.
  • Then, the dentist will make a mold of your tooth using dental putty.
  • The impression will be sent to a dental lab for the creation of the inlay/onlay. You will be given a temporary restoration to protect your tooth while you wait for the permanent restoration.
  • Once it is created they will make sure the inlay/onlay fits.
  • Finally, the restoration will be bonded to your tooth and polished.
  • Your tooth will look natural, and neither you nor anyone else will be able to notice the difference.

Is there any special maintenance required for an onlay or inlay?

Inlays and onlays require the same oral hygiene as your natural teeth do: brushing, flossing, and regular check-ups with your dentist.