Inlays & Onlays

Inlays and Onlays

Inlays and onlays are a conservative alternative to full coverage dental crowns. Also known as indirect fillings, inlays and onlays offer a well-fitting, stronger, longer lasting reparative solution to tooth decay or similar damage. These restorations are beneficial from both an esthetic and functional point of view.

Ideal candidates for inlay or onlay work typically have too much damage or decay in the tooth structure to be successfully treated using a filling, but have sufficient healthy tooth remaining to avoid the need for a crown. This allows the dentist to conserve more of the patient’s original tooth structure.


here are other benefits to inlays and onlays in comparison to metal fillings:

  1. Inlays and onlays are durable — they’re made from tough, hard-wearing materials which last up to 30 years.
  2. They help to strengthen teeth by up to 75 percent, unlike traditional metal fillings which can actually reduce the strength of the teeth by up to 50 percent.
  3. Inlays and onlays prolong tooth life and prevent the need for more dental treatment in the future.

Your dentist may choose from materials such as gold, tooth-colored composite resin and porcelain to create an inlay, depending on your choice of aesthetic appeal, longevity and your budget. Regardless of the material your dentist recommends, inlays are often more durable than amalgam or composite fillings, less expensive than dental crowns and are not likely to have complications during the procedure.

What materials are in an Inlay/Onlay?

Inlays are made of two types of materials:

  1. Porcelain – most like a natural tooth in color
  2. Gold Alloy – strongest and most conservative in its preparation

How can an existing bite affect an Inlay/Onlay?

Excessive bite forces may lead to the restoration chipping or breaking.

Are there any post treatment limitations once I have an Inlay/Onlay?

  • Porcelain on an inlay/onlay may have a good color match with adjacent natural teeth when the restoration is placed but less of a match as your natural teeth age.


  • An inlay/onlay may chip or break if used for abnormal activities (e.g. biting fishing line, sewing thread or finger nails, opening

Learn About Onlays

Homecare:  Inlays & Onlays

It’s important to follow these recommendations to ensure the success of your final restoration:

Chewing and eating:

If we used an anesthetic during the procedure, avoid chewing until the numbness has completely worn off.
Avoid chewing for at least one  half-hour to allow the temporary
cement to set.

To keep your temporary in place, avoid eating hard or sticky foods, especially chewing gum. If possible, chew only on the opposite side of your mouth.

Brushing and flossing

Brush normally, but floss very carefully. Remove floss from the side to prevent removal of the temporary crown.

If your teeth are sensitive to hot, cold, or pressure, use desensitizing toothpaste. If sensitivity increases or persists beyond a few days, call us.

Medication and discomfort:

Take antibiotics or other medications only as directed. To reduce any discomfort or swelling, rinse your mouth three times a day with warm salt water. Use about one teaspoon of salt per glass of warm water. It’s
normal for your gums to be sore for several days.

When to call us

Call us if your temporary crown comes off.  Save the temporary so we can recement it.  It’s very important for the proper fit of your final crown that your temporary stay in place.

Call our office if your bite feels uneven, you have persistent sensitivity or discomfort, or if you have any questions or concerns.