Inlays and onlays are important tools in the dental toolbox. Inlays and onlays are appropriate for repairing mild to moderate damage to teeth. This damage may be caused by fracture or decay. Inlays and onlays represent an intermediate step between the repair abilities of a filling and those of a crown. Another advantage of an inlay or onlay over a filling is that while fillings weaken teeth, inlays and onlays can actually leave them up to 75% stronger than they were naturally. When properly cared for, they will last for decades.

Whats the difference between inlays and onlays?

Inlays and onlays are made by virtually the same process. The difference between the two has to do with which parts or how much of the tooth they are designed to repair. If the damage is contained to one surface of the tooth, and the repair doesn’t involve any cusps, then it’s an inlay. If it involves one or more cusps, then it’s an onlay.

diagram showing tooth cusps which differentiate inlays and onlays

If your inlay or onlay requires lab work, it will be completed over two appointments. First, Dr. Abeyta will prepare the surface of the tooth. Methods of preparation vary based on the needs of the individual repair, but the guiding principle is that the smallest amount of tooth possible should be removed while still creating an effective surface for attaching the inlay or onlay. Next, Dr. Abeyta will take a mold of the tooth. Then, she will create a temporary restoration for the tooth, which will protect it until the next visit. After the lab has finished your inlay or onlay, Dr. Abeyta will bond it to the tooth and polish it in a second office visit.

With CEREC technology, we are able to complete some inlays and onlays in a single office visit. CEREC enables Dr. Abeyta to input scans of your tooth, create a 3D model, and manufacture an inlay or onlay while you wait!

Call Dr. Abeyta’s office to find out if inlays and onlays are the right option for your dental repair.