Inlays & Onlays

What does it all mean?

If you’re not familiar with the terms “inlay” or “onlay,” take heart—they’re simply terms for a restorative type of dental filling. The two terms differentiate between one important detail: Where the filling is placed on the tooth.

Image of gold inlayAn inlay is a restorative filling made of gold, composite resin or porcelain that is used inside the indented top surfaces of a damaged or decayed tooth.

An onlay is the term used when that same filling extends to one of the outside edges, or the cusp, of the tooth. If you put your finger in your mouth between your back teeth and gently bite down, the pointy surfaces you’re feeling are the cusps of those teeth. A crown is a type of onlay that covers all surfaces of the tooth.

Since inlays and onlays can be made from durable, tooth-colored materials, they are often used to replace damaged metal fillings.

Inlays and onlays are generally done in two visits. First, we will take an impression of your teeth. At the second visit, we will place the inlay or onlay and cement it into place. Because inlays and onlays are custom fit to the surface of your tooth, they can protect you from decay causing bacteria and further damage.

If you’d like to know more about inlays and onlays, just talk with us during your next visit!