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Inlays & Onlays

Inlays and Onlays are dental restorations that can be conservative and cosmetic alternatives to full coverage dental crowns. They are primarily used to repair tooth decay or other similar damage. They tend to be durable and well-fitting, resulting in repaired tooth structures that are both functionally and visually improved. Inlays are bonded into the center of a tooth, while onlays are bonded to multiple points or full coverage of a tooth.


Inlays and onlays have several benefits. They preserve natural, healthy parts of a damaged tooth and are best used when a tooth is only partially decayed. They also preserve their color over time better than resin fillings. Inlays and Onlays are easier to clean than full coverage restorative procedures because they are fitted at all edges. Inlays also seal better than composite fillings and onlays can protect weak areas of the tooth.


The full procedure requires only two visits to complete. The first visit is the preparation stage. An impression is taken of the damaged tooth in order for the inlay or onlay to be created at a dental lab. They can be made from gold, porcelain, or resin materials, depending on the location of the damaged tooth and proper alignment of teeth. While the inlay or onlay is being created, the patient may wear a temporary version of the final product, which can be created on the first visit.

On the second visit, the temporary inlay or onlay is removed and the gold, porcelain, or resin model is placed. The dentist will test for a tight, stable fit before bonding it to the damaged tooth.


Not all dentists place inlays and onlays. In fact, there are a relatively small number of dentists who have received training for the procedure. Dental schools do not provide formal training, so some dentists may need to learn from technicians who work in the dental laboratories that develop inlays and onlays.

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