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Inlays and Onlays

Moderately sized cavities are often best treated with a dental inlay or onlay. Inlays and onlays are manufactured in a dental laboratory and typically offer superior strength and longevity versus an amalgam or composite resin filling.

How is an Inlay or Onlay done?

  • Inlays and onlays begin much the same as a filling the tooth is prepared by removing defective filling material and/or decay from the tooth.
  • Rather than filling the cavity immediately, an accurate impression (“mould”) is made of the prepared tooth and a temporary filling is placed.
  • A dental laboratory uses the impression to fabricate the inlay/onlay from either porcelain or gold.
  • The finished inlay fits into the prepared tooth like a puzzle piece.
  • It is cemented into place with a very strong dental cement.

Advantages of Inlays/Onlays versus fillings

Superior fit, superior durability, superior contour, anatomy and esthetics

Disadvantages of Inlays/Onlays versus Fillings

Requires two visits – one for preparation and one for cementation of the finished restoration. but it is approximately three times more expensive than fillings intially, although increased longevity may result in a lower long term cost, less chair time, etc.


Dental inlays and onlays can be made from either gold or porcelain. Porcelain is typically used in situations where aesthetics are an overriding concern. Gold is preferred in back teeth due to its superior durability.

Other restorative procedures: Fillings | Crowns



There are three main options available to restore teeth:

Fillings | Inlays and Onlays | Crowns