Inlays and Onlays
A Highly Dependable Restoration for Your Damaged Tooth

Many people get cavities once or more in their lifetime and need fillings to repair these teeth.

Ordinary dental fillings typically work well to protect your teeth from further damage afterwards. However, common fillings are not as attractive as tooth-colored crowns. Yet, a small cavity does not warrant getting a crown to cover the entire tooth. Inlays and onlays are an intermediate solution that provides practical function and cosmetic improvements as well.

What Are Inlays and Onlays?

Dentists use inlays and onlaysto restore your tooth after you have had a cavity or other damage to your tooth. They are different from ordinary gold, silver amalgam or resin fillingsin several ways. They are cemented in or on the tooth rather than being packed tightly into the hole left after the decayed material is removed from the cavity. Inlays and onlays are made to fit the cusps of your teeth. Instead of being made by molding them into your teeth, they are made in a laboratory.

What Is the Difference between an Inlay and an Onlay?

There are two main ways inlays are different from onlays. First, inlays are made to fit within the cusps of the affected tooth, while onlays go over the cusps. Second, an inlay is smaller than an onlay to cover the same tooth would be. Your dentist examines your tooth to decide whether you need an inlay or an onlay to repair your tooth.

What Are the Benefits of Inlays and Onlays?

Inlays and onlays have several advantages over fillings. These include:

  • Do not tend to discolor over time
  • Preserve healthy tooth structure
  • Precise fit
  • Seal teeth to keep out bacteria
  • Can strengthen a damaged tooth
  • Can protect weak areas of tooth
  • Easier to clean teeth than with crowns

What Is the Process Like?

Inlays and onlays can be made in two different ways: directly or indirectly. When a dentist makes the inlay or onlay in their dental office, it is called a direct inlay or onlay. An indirect inlay or onlay is made in a lab.

In either case, the dentist first prepares your tooth by removing the decay and shaping the tooth to accept the inlay or onlay. To create the inlay or onlay directly, the dentist places and molds a composite resin on the tooth. The inlay or onlay is then hardened in a special oven. It can be placed the same day.

For an indirect inlays or onlays, our Toronto dentist takes an imprint of the tooth and surrounding teeth after shaping the tooth. The impression is sent to a lab where technicians create the inlay or onlay to custom fit your tooth. The dentist then puts a temporary filling in place to protect the tooth until your second appointment. When the inlays or onlays arrive at the dentist’s office, the dentist places them on your teeth to check for fit and then cements them into place.

Inlays and Onlays