Inlays & Onlays

When a large portion of the tooth’s biting surface is damaged, a dentist will often use an inlay or onlay.

What are dental inlays and onlays?

Inlays and onlays can be made of porcelain, gold, or composite resin. These pieces are bonded to replace the damaged area of the tooth. An inlay, which is similar to a dental filling, is used inside the cusp tips of the tooth. An onlay is a more substantial reconstruction, similar to the inlay but extending out over one or more of the cusps of the tooth.

Traditionally, gold has been the material of choice for inlays and onlays. In recent years, however, hybrid ceramic resin material has become increasingly popular due to its strength and color.  This material has an excellent chameleon effect which blends well with the natural color of your teeth.

How are inlays and onlays applied?

With the use of CEREC®, inlays and onlays require just one appointment to complete. During the visit, the filling (or the damaged/decaying area of the tooth) being replaced is removed, and the tooth is prepared for the inlay or onlay. To ensure proper fit and bite, a digital impression of the tooth is obtained by the dentist.  The inlay or onlay is then digitally designed and milled in-office.  Once the restoration is milled, Dr. Kruth, Dr. Kasunich or Dr. Hertz will then make sure that the inlay or onlay fits correctly. If the fit is satisfactory and you are happy with the esthetics, the inlay or onlay will be bonded to the tooth with a strong resin and polished to a smooth finish.

Considerations for Inlays and Onlays

Traditional fillings can reduce the strength of a natural tooth by up to 50 percent. As an alternative, inlays and onlays, which are bonded directly onto the tooth using special high-strength resins, can actually increase the strength of a tooth by up to 75 percent. As a result, they can last from 10 to 30 years. In some cases where the damage to the tooth is not extensive enough to merit an entire dental crown, onlays can provide a very good alternative.   Common indications for dental inlays/onlays include:

  • Broken or fractured teeth
  • Cosmetic enhancement
  • Decayed teeth
  • Fractured fillings
  • Large fillings