Dental Inlays & Onlays: The Durable and Beautiful Restoration Options

When it comes to dental restorations, you have several options to choose from. Dental inlays and onlays are two such options that provide a strong and aesthetically pleasing way to restore damaged or decayed teeth. Whether you’re dealing with a cavity, a broken tooth, or a large filling that needs replacement, inlays and onlays can offer a reliable solution. In this blog post, we’ll explore what dental inlays and onlays are, their benefits, the procedure, and why they may be a preferable choice for certain dental issues.

What Are Dental Inlays & Onlays?

Dental inlays and onlays are restorative treatments that fall between dental fillings and dental crowns in terms of complexity and invasiveness. They are used to repair teeth with moderate damage or decay, where a standard dental filling may not be sufficient but a full crown is not necessary.

  1. Dental Inlays:

   – Inlays are custom-made restorations typically crafted from materials like porcelain, composite resin, or gold.

   – They are designed to fit precisely within the contours of a cavity or damage inside the tooth.

   – Inlays are often used when a cavity or damage is too large for a filling, but the tooth structure is still sturdy enough to support the inlay.

  1. Dental Onlays:

   – Onlays are similar to inlays but extend beyond the cusps (the raised points on the tooth’s surface) to cover a larger portion of the tooth.

   – They are suitable for restoring teeth with more extensive damage that affects one or more cusps.

   – Onlays are often referred to as “partial crowns” because they provide more coverage than inlays but less than full crowns.

Benefits of Dental Inlays & Onlays

  1. Durability: Inlays and onlays are known for their longevity. They can withstand normal chewing and last for many years, often longer than traditional fillings.
  2. Aesthetics: These restorations are customized to match the color and shape of your natural teeth, providing a seamless and aesthetically pleasing appearance.
  3. Preservation of Tooth Structure: Inlays and onlays require less removal of healthy tooth structure compared to dental crowns, which helps maintain the strength and integrity of your tooth.
  4. Strong and Resilient: These restorations are strong and can withstand the forces of biting and chewing, making them a reliable option for restoring teeth.

The Procedure

The process of getting dental inlays and onlays generally involves two visits to the dentist’s office:

  1. First Visit:

   – The dentist will examine your tooth and take X-rays to assess the extent of the damage.

   – They will prepare the damaged area by removing any decay or old fillings and shaping the tooth for the inlay or onlay.

   – An impression of the prepared tooth will be taken, which is sent to a dental laboratory to create a custom restoration.

   – A temporary filling may be placed to protect your tooth until the final restoration is ready.

  1. Second Visit:

   – Once the custom inlay or onlay is ready, you’ll return to the dentist for placement.

   – The temporary filling is removed, and the final restoration is bonded securely to your tooth.

   – The dentist will make final adjustments to ensure a proper fit and bite alignment.

   – You’ll leave the office with a fully restored and aesthetically pleasing tooth.


Dental inlays and onlays are valuable options for restoring teeth with moderate damage or decay. They offer the perfect balance between aesthetics and durability, making them an excellent choice for those seeking long-lasting and natural-looking results. If you’re experiencing tooth problems and want to explore these restorative options, consult with your dentist to determine the most suitable treatment for your needs. Your dentist can help you make an informed decision to achieve a healthier, more beautiful smile.