Inlays and Onlays

Inlay and onlay

Inlays and onlays are basically large fillings that are fabricated in a dental laboratory. They can be fabricated from gold, porcelain, or resin, however most dentists opt for porcelain or resin due to its aesthetic appearance. A dental inlay can restore the entire chewing surface of a tooth, while a dental onlay can restore the entire chewing surface of the tooth plus one or more of its cusps. After the inlay or onlay has been fabricated by a dental lab, it will be adhered to the affected tooth. 

Did You Know?

Direct fillings are a type of dental filling that can be completed entirely within your mouth during a single appointment. Composite fillings are the most common example of a direct filling. However, since inlays and onlays are fabricated in a dental lab instead of in your dentist’s office, they are known as indirect fillings.

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Am I a candidate for a dental inlay or a dental onlay?

You may be a candidate for a dental inlay or onlay if you have one or more teeth that have a significant amount of decayed or damaged tissue that extends over the entire chewing surface of the tooth. If the decay or damage extends to one or more of the tooth’s points, then your dentist will likely recommend a dental onlay. However if it is just the chewing surface that is decayed or damaged, a dental inlay will likely be recommended. In most cases, dental inlays and onlays are recommended in cases where a traditional filling is not adequate, but a dental crown is not yet needed. Ultimately, only a consultation with your Saratoga dentist can determine if you are a candidate for a dental inlay or onlay. 

dental inlay made of gold

What can I expect when having a dental inlay or onlay placed at my Saratoga dental office?

Since inlays and onlays are indirect restorations, this means that they will be placed in two dental appointments. Your first appointment is necessary to remove and reshape any decayed or damaged tissue. Then, a dental impression or oral scan will be performed to obtain information used to fabricate the inlay or onlay. Finally, a temporary restoration will be put in place to protect your tooth between the first and second appointments. At your second visit, you will return to your Saratoga dental office and the permanent inlay or onlay will be bonded in place. 

Are there any special guidelines I need to follow after having an inlay or onlay placed?

Between your first and second appointments, it is important that you take special care to avoid dislodging the temporary restoration since they are weaker than permanent restorations. To do this, we recommend avoiding excessively hard or chewy foods, as well as chewing on the side with the temporary restoration. In most cases, you will only need to follow these guidelines for about a week until your second appointment. 

When your permanent inlay or onlay has been placed, you are free to return to your usual diet and routine. However, we always recommend being careful when eating anything very hard, chewy, crunchy, or sticky because these foods can still damage your restoration. Inlays and onlays can also become damaged as a result of tooth grinding or clenching, chewing on ice, nail biting, and using your teeth to open packages. 

Even after you have your inlay or onlay placed, it is important to continue practicing good oral hygiene habits. Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day are important habits to prevent additional tooth decay. Additionally, be sure to visit your Saratoga dentist at least once every six months for a dental exam and professional teeth cleaning.