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Inlays & Onlays


There are times when a tooth is too damaged or decayed to be treated with a simple filling, but the problem is not extensive enough to need a full-coverage crown. In these cases, our dentists may recommend a tooth-colored inlay or onlay.

An inlay is when the material fits within the little cusps of a pre-molar or molar. It is an onlay if it covers one or more of these cusps. Unlike a regular filling, which is applied directly to the cavity by the dentist in one office visit, inlays and onlays are created in a dental laboratory and then bonded to your tooth by a dentist.

How It Works

  Inlay, Onlays and Crowns. Getting an inlay or onlay is similar to getting a crown, with one important difference: less of your natural tooth will need to be removed when you receive an inlay or onlay. When you receive a crown, your dentist needs to significantly reshape the tooth so it will fit inside its new covering. Inlays and onlays preserve more of your natural tooth structure and are considered a more conservative type of treatment.

First, your dentist will numb the tooth and the surrounding area with a local anesthetic. Then, the dentist will remove the decay. Once the tooth is ready, the dentist will make an impression either digitally or with a putty-like material and send it to dental laboratory. There, a technician will use the impression to create your inlay or onlay. While most restorations are made out of a tooth-colored ceramic or resin, they can be made out of gold.

Before you leave the office, the dentist will place a temporary filling on your tooth to protect it while your inlay or onlay is being made. During your second visit, the permanent inlay or onlay will be placed on your tooth with either a resin that hardens when exposed to a special light, or with a type of permanent cement.

Inlays and onlays are strong, long-lasting, and require no greater level of care than any other tooth. Daily brushing and flossing and regular professional cleanings at the dental office are all you need to ensure your restoration lasts for years to come.

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