Inlays & Onlays

You can consider dental inlays and onlays to repair back teeth which are not sufficiently damaged to require a crown.

Arden Park Dental Care | Sacramento Dentist | Inlay and OnlayThe types of damage repaired by inlays and onlays include fractured or cracked teeth and mild or moderate decay that cannot be successfully treating by filling. Opting for inlays and onlays means your dentist can preserve more of the original tooth than if a crown were fitted.

The benefits to inlays and onlays include:

  • durability - they are manufactured from materials that will last up to 30 years
  •  strengthening - they will add up to 75 percent strength to each tooth, as opposed to metal fillings which can reduce tooth strength by up to 50 percent
  • prolong tooth life - removing any need for further dental treatments in future.


We may recommend inlays or onlays when old fillings are removed and need replacing. An inlay is like a filling and fits inside the top edges (cusps) of the tooth, while an onlay extends over the top edges of the tooth. The materials to create inlays and onlays could be gold, porcelain or a form of composite resin.

Your treatment will usually take around two hours in total and involve two appointments. At your initial appointment the dentist will freeze your gum by treating the area with local anesthetic. The old filling will then be removed, as well as any additional decay or damage. We will select with you the required material for your inlay or onlay, porcelain is the most common material used as it resembles the natural tooth more closely. The dentist then takes an impression of the damaged tooth using dental putty. Your damaged tooth will be protected by a temporary filling or restoration which your dentist will apply at this first appointment.

The impression is sent to a dental laboratory where the inlay or onlay will be made using whichever material you have selected and using the tooth impression as a guide to the required shape.

At your second appointment the temporary filling/restoration will be removed and your inlay or onlay will be checked to ensure it is a perfect fit. If your dentist is satisfied your inlay or onlay fits correctly and blends in with natural teeth, it will be bonded into place on the damaged tooth with a strong adhesive. Your dentist then completes your treatment by polishing the tooth to create the best possible appearance.

You'll find the first appointment is slightly longer than the second, due to the amount of work required to make your tooth ready for inlay or onlay application.

Some people do find they suffer a little discomfort following inlay or onlay treatment, however this is soon treated with over the counter pain medications. The treated tooth may feel a little strange for the first few days, but you'll soon get used to the new surface and the way it feels within your mouth.

If you have the option of choosing inlays or onlays to treat any of your rear teeth, you should consider this carefully as the treatment will result in a durable tooth with significantly less damage than caused by additional fillings or a crown.