When Are Dental Onlays or Inlays Recommended?

Dental onlays and inlays are one of the dental restorations used for damaged teeth that do not need a crown. They are mainly used to fix cracked, fractured or decayed teeth when the damage is minor or less severe. In some situations, inlays or onlays may be used to substitute cavity filling.

Onlays and inlays protect the teeth and restore the smile

If you book an appointment with the dentist over concerns about your oral health and smile, the dentist might recommend using inlays or onlays. These dental restorations are perfect for repairing the quality of your smile and shielding the teeth. Sometimes called partial crowns, inlays and onlays can be used in the place of traditional metal fillings.

An inlay is molded onto the grooves of the teeth and does not reach the tooth’s cusps. It is usually used to restore tooth injuries or decay that did not affect the cusp of the tooth. Onlays are used to repair extensive damage reaching the cusp or tip of the teeth or biting surface. After fixing the impairment, you will have a more beautiful smile.

You do not need over-the-counter whitening kits after getting inlays or onlays. The porcelain restoration has a similar appearance to the natural teeth and is aesthetically pleasing.

Dental onlays and inlays prolong the teeth’s lifetime

If you are looking to extend the duration of your teeth, the dentist may suggest getting inlays or onlays. These restorations are made from long-lasting materials such as porcelain and gold and can survive decades or a lifetime of normal usage. Choosing to get inlays and onlays will strengthen your teeth against degradation and minor injuries.

They have this advantage over fillings that only last a couple of years before needing replacements.

How inlays and onlays work


When a tooth suffers a cavity or damage, the dentist will make an impression of the teeth where the inlay will be made. Porcelain or composite resin materials are the conventional materials used for making inlays because they look similar to the tooth color and blend in seamlessly with the rest of the teeth while hiding the impairment.

Dental inlays are stronger than conventional fillings made from composite or amalgam. Sometimes gold material is used for inlays for its durability, but it is more expensive than other materials.


For severe damage to the tooth reaching the cusps and biting surface, onlays are the best choice. The dentist will administer local anesthesia to numb the area before proceeding to clear out any decay and place a temporary onlay. An impression of the tooth will be taken and sent to the dental lab.

After a week or so, the permanent onlay should be ready for placement. The dentist will remove the temporary onlay and substitute it with the permanent restoration.

Final note

After the inlay or onlay is in position, you will have the benefit of having an extra shield for your tooth to prevent damage, infection or inflammation. You will soon discover that the quality of the restoration improves over time, giving you an attractive and natural smile.

Call (520) 353-3002 today to reach Advanced Family Dentistry.

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