An inlay refers to a filling that usually consists of gold, porcelain, or resin that is used to treat a cavity. An inlay is larger than a filling while being smaller than a crown. The difference between an inlay and a filling is that an inlay lies within the cusps on the chewing portion of the tooth. This procedure includes an impression of the tooth and creation of the restoration piece outside of the mouth. This procedure is effective for those who have extensive decays or fractures within the teeth that cannot be fixed by an intracoronal restoration. It is important to receive this procedure if you are instructed by a dentist to do so, as ignoring this issue will potentially lead to more severe tooth damage that may require emergency dentistry.

An onlay is the same as an inlay, except that an onlay is specifically targeted towards replacing a tooth cusp. This procedure utilizes crowns in order to cover the surface of the tooth. This procedure is effective in conserving the tooth structure and will completely eliminate the cusps and walls of the tooth within the crown.


Inlays and onlays require two appointments to complete the procedure. During the first visit, the filling being replaced or the damaged or decaying area of the tooth is removed, and the tooth is prepared for the inlay or onlay. To ensure proper fit and bite, an impression of the tooth is made by the dentist, and sent to a lab for fabrication. The dentist will then apply a temporary sealant on the tooth and schedule the next appointment.

At the second appointment, the temporary sealant is removed. Dr. Sanghavi will then make sure that the inlay or onlay fits correctly. If the fit is satisfactory, the inlay or onlay will be bonded to the tooth with a strong resin and polished to a smooth finish.


Dr. Sanghavi will determine what type of inlay or onlay is necessary for your unique situation depending on how much of the tooth remains. Traditionally, gold has been the material of choice for inlays and onlays. In recent years, however, porcelain has become increasingly popular due to its strength and color, which can potentially match the natural color of your teeth.

Receiving an inlay or onlay is necessary when a person is missing more than half of the tooth, or if more than half of the tooth is decayed. There are many benefits to receiving an inlay or onlay when compared to traditional metal fillings. First, they are more durable and typically last up to thirty years. Second, they help to add strength to the tooth by up to seventy-five percent, while metal fillings only strengthen the tooth by about fifty percent. Lastly, both inlays and onlays increase the lifespan of the tooth and prevent the need for additional dental treatment in the future.

In order to maintain and take care of the patient’s inlay or onlay, the patient will need to brush and floss on a consistent basis as well as have regular visits to the dentist.

Ready to feel amazing about your oral health?

Schedule an appointment or Contact us with any questions. Our caring and dedicated staff can't wait to hear from you!