Inlays and Onlays

When over half of the tooth’s biting surface is damaged, a dentist will often use an inlay or onlay.

What are inlays and onlays?

  • Inlays and onlays can be made of porcelain, gold, or composite resin.
  • These pieces are bonded to the damaged area of the tooth.
  • An inlay, which is similar to a filling, is used inside the cusp tips of the tooth
  • An onlay is a more substantial restoration, similar to the inlay but extending out over one or more of the cusps of the tooth.
  • Traditionally, gold had 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 matches the natural color of teeth.

How are they applied?

Inlays and onlays no longer require two appointments.

During this visit:

  1. The old filling or the damaged or decaying area of the tooth is removed
  2. The tooth is prepared for the inlay or onlay.
  3. A digital impression of the tooth is taken utilizing our CEREC restorative system.
  4. Dr. Gamber will then design restoration for the tooth.
  5. The CEREC milling unit will mill the restoration which Dr. Gamber designed.
  6. Dr. Gamber will then make sure that the inlay or onlay fits correctly.
  7. The restoration will be fired in a porcelain oven for strength and esthetics.
  8. After reconfirming the fit, the inlay or onlay will be bonded to the tooth with a strong resin and polished to a smooth finish.


Traditional fillings can reduce the strength of a natural tooth by up to 50 percent. As an alternative, inlays and onlays, bonded directly onto the tooth with special high-strength resins, can actually increase the strength of a tooth by up to 75 percent. As a result, they can last from 10 to 30 years. In some cases, when the damage to the tooth is not extensive enough to merit an entire crown, onlays can provide a good alternative.

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Paul Gamber, DMD


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