Wed. Jul 17th, 2024

Most often, your tooth may be affected by bacterial invasion, causing caries and leading to extensive damage. At times, it may not be possible to restore such tooth cavities with normal dental fillings due to the nature of tooth decay. This is when restorative dentistry helps overcome such challenges through inlay and onlay restorations. These are specially designed fillings that help restore severely damaged teeth to seal them permanently and prevent further deterioration. 


What is an inlay restoration?

A dental inlay is generally used to restore the space in the center of your tooth that has been damaged by decay or injury. It is made of solid material that is custom-made to fit your tooth perfectly. 


What is an onlay restoration?

An onlay restoration is similar to an inlay filling; however, they are larger in size. They restore larger cavities that extend over the cusps of a tooth. Like inlays, they are also shaped and colored to match your natural teeth. 


What are inlays and onlays made up of?

Inlays and onlays can be made up of gold, ceramic (porcelain), or composite materials. However, currently ceramic and composite resin materials are widely used to fabricate dental inlays and onlays. 


Benefits of ceramic inlays and onlays:

  • Strong and durable material
  • Increased fracture resistance than traditional fillings
  • Smoothly blends with the color of your natural teeth
  • Stain-resistant material


Benefits of composite inlays and onlays:

  • Stronger and less prone to fracture
  • Tooth-colored that blend naturally with your teeth
  • Durable and stain-resistant 
  • Aesthetically superior 


Inlay and onlay restoration – the procedure involved

You can expect the following steps during an inlay and onlay procedure:


  • During the first visit, your dentist will first remove the tooth decay or any existing filling before inlay or onlay placement.
  • Your tooth is then prepared using ultrasonic instruments.
  • Next, your dentist will take an impression of your prepared tooth, an appropriate shade is chosen, and ceramic is used to fabricate inlays and onlays.
  • A temporary filling will be placed while the inlay or onlay is fabricated. This filling protects your prepared tooth from caries and thermal stimulation.
  • Once the inlay or onlay is fabricated, your dentist will place the inlay or onlay during your second visit.
  • The temporary filling is pulled off, and the inlay or onlay is cemented to your prepared tooth.



Dental inlays and onlays are effective solutions for restoring extensively damaged teeth and preventing further deterioration. Their longevity can span several years through proper care. Maintaining good oral hygiene, following a healthy diet, avoiding unhealthy habits like smoking, and attending regular dental checkups are essential for ensuring their durability. 

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