Dental inlays are restorations cemented to the tooth to rebuild lost tooth structure. They are performed on posterior teeth,allowing the repair of teeth with mild to moderate cavities, or those that have suffered cracks or fractures. Currently they are widely used for their better aesthetics. It is a conservative treatment that preserves the remaining healthy structure of the tooth as compared to dental crowns when it is necessary to carve the entire circumference of the tooth.

There are different types, depending upon the degree of involvement of the tooth; but currently, the most used are the so-called inlay and onlay inlays. They can be made of porcelain, composite resin, but rarely gold, so the color is natural and the morphology adequate. In this way, the chewing function is also restored.

Onlay type dental inlays


Onlay inlays are used to treat extensive caries, involving one or more cusps of the premolars or molars. may be considered a happy medium between a cavity filling and a dental crown. The difference with the latter is that onlay inlays replace a smaller amount of healthy tooth, making them a more conservative treatment option.

Carving to make an onlay inlay will preserve the periphery of the tooth; it is done on the occlusal face, although sometimes it can address a minimal part of the periphery of the tooth.

Onlay procedure

The procedure used to place an onlay typically requires two dental appointments. During the first appointment, the tooth is carved; that is, the dentist will remove the decayed or affected part to prepare the tooth for the “onlay” embedding. Later, he will take an impression of the tooth to send it to a laboratory to create the permanent restoration.

Lastly, he will protect the tooth until your next appointment with a temporary inlay. On the second appointment, the dentist will remove the temporary inlay, clean the cavity, place the restoration, and ensure good cementation. After checking the bite, he will proceed to polish the inlay to match the surrounding natural teeth.

In which cases are onlay dental inlays indicated?


Onlay inlays are indicated in large cavities that require covering of the cusps, such as those teeth having had endodontic treatment. They are also indicated in aesthetic reconstructions of molars and premolars with an involvement of less than three cusps. In bruxism patients, it is a good option as a restorative element.

Benefits of onlay

Onlays help preserve dental structure because it requires minimal removal of the dental surface, avoiding invasive treatments such as dental crowns. They are highly aesthetic because they can be made with materials similar in color to natural teeth, such as porcelain and resin. They are practically invisible treatments. Unlike conventional resin fillings, dental inlays do not expand or contract in response to temperature changes in the oral cavity. This change in size that happens with composite fillings can cause teeth to weaken or fracture, especially teeth with a root canal. Because it requires less tooth wear than dental crowns and more preservation of the tooth structure, the long-term durability of this dental restoration is ensured.



Daily dental hygiene habits, such as proper brushing after meals and the use of aids such as dental floss, as well as regular visits to the dentist are all that is needed to keep dental inlays in good condition and prevent decay from seeping between a tooth and the adhering material of the inlay.

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At Channel Islands Family Dental, we help you find the type of treatment that best suits your needs. Our dentists in Newbury Park, Ventura, Port Hueneme, Santa Paula and Oxnard are open for your questions. Book your appointment now.