Dental Inlays & Onlays

What is a Dental Inlay?

A tooth inlay may be used instead of a filling to replace a small amount of tooth loss due to decay in the center of a tooth. Unlike a filling, which is molded in the dentist’s office, a dental inlay is fabricated in a laboratory. Your dentist then fits it for the damaged tooth and bonds it into place. A tooth inlay is an extremely stable and long-lasting restoration. Inlays and onlays increase the strength of a tooth.

Inlays fit inside the tooth like a filling. In the past, inlays were often made of gold, but today, tooth inlays are made of either ceramic or a special dental composite. A porcelain inlay is an example of a ceramic inlay.

Dr. Michael Adams and Dr. Pamela Adams can make sure these materials match the color of your teeth for a better appearance. You can often replace defective or unsightly fillings with tooth-colored inlays that bond to the tooth, sometimes improving the strength of the tooth and helping to seal the inlay to the tooth.

What is a Dental Onlay?

A tooth onlay fits inside the tooth, similar to an inlay, but it also becomes part of the chewing surface of a back tooth to replace one or more cusps. An onlay is also fabricated outside the dentist’s office in a lab.

Most patients request tooth-colored onlays for a natural look. Use of a ceramic onlay, specifically a porcelain onlay, can strengthen the tooth and seal the onlay to the tooth. It is a stable and lasting restoration.

Dental Inlays, Dental Onlays—or Crowns?

You may be wondering when an inlay or onlay is used rather than a crown or cap. When the damage to the tooth is not extensive enough to justify a crown, an inlay or onlay can be an excellent alternative. This determination is made by a dental expert. Ask Adams Dental if you are a candidate for a tooth-colored inlay or onlay during your next appointment.