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Smiling person with the text "Inlays and Onlays: The Durable Alternative to Traditional Fillings" superimposed at the bottom.

Inlays and Onlays: The Durable Alternative to Traditional Fillings

When discussing inlays and onlays, we are referring to custom-made dental restorations that address tooth decay or damage while preserving as much of the natural tooth as possible.

Inlays are designed to fit inside the tooth and are ideal for larger cavities between cusps, while onlays cover a more extensive area, including damaged cusps.

These options seamlessly blend with our natural teeth and can last up to 30 years, making them a durable choice.

Let’s explore their benefits, the specific situations they are best for, and the materials commonly used in their creation.

Definition of Inlays and Onlays

Inlays and onlays, which are custom-made dental restorations, are designed to address tooth decay, damage, or fractures while preserving as much of the natural tooth structure as possible.

Inlays fit inside the tooth, replacing small to moderate areas of lost tooth structure. Onlays cover a larger surface area, including one or more cusps, acting as partial crowns.

These dental restorations are crafted from materials like ceramic, porcelain, or dental composite, ensuring they match the natural color of the tooth.


When considering the benefits of these advanced dental restorations, we find that preserving the natural tooth structure and guaranteeing durability are paramount.

Inlays and onlays provide a robust restoration that seamlessly integrates with our teeth, enhancing both functionality and aesthetics. These restorations offer remarkable durability and longevity, often lasting up to 30 years with proper maintenance. By fitting precisely, they prevent further decay and protect our oral health, minimizing the need for future treatments.

Additionally, the color-matching properties ensure a natural appearance, blending effortlessly with our existing teeth. Overall, inlays and onlays not only restore our smiles but also contribute to sustained oral health and decay prevention, making them a superior choice for dental restoration.

Treatment Indications

A woman sitting in a dental chair smiling with a dental bib on. Text beside her reads, "Inlays and onlays fit inside the tooth, replacing small to moderate areas of lost tooth structure.

For patients experiencing significant dental decay or cusp damage, inlays and onlays offer a targeted and effective restorative solution. These dental restorations are used to treat a variety of conditions:

  • Inlays are used for treating large cavities located between the cusps of a tooth.
  • Onlays treat damaged cusps caused by wear or erosion.
  • Both inlays and onlays help restore the tooth’s shape and prevent further damage.
  • Inlay and onlay treatments are effective for advanced tooth decay and damage.
  • Inlays fit within the chewing portion of the tooth, while onlays cover one or more cusps.

Materials Used

Among the various materials available for crafting inlays and onlays, gold, ceramic, porcelain, and dental composite each offer distinct advantages tailored to specific dental needs and patient preferences. Gold inlays are renowned for their exceptional strength and durability, making them ideal for areas under high chewing pressure.

Ceramic and porcelain inlays and onlays provide excellent tooth-colored aesthetics, seamlessly blending with natural teeth for a more pleasing appearance. Dental composite inlays and onlays also offer natural-looking results, though they may not be as durable as gold or porcelain options.

The choice of material hinges on factors like required durability, the desire for tooth-colored aesthetics, and budget considerations. Each option supports restoring structural integrity while catering to individual patient needs.

Procedure Steps

A person smiling and touching their face appears with a quote about onlays covering a larger surface area, including one or more cusps, on the left side of the image. Inlays and onlays are often considered a durable alternative to traditional fillings for extensive dental repairs.

To begin the inlay or onlay procedure, we meticulously examine the tooth to assess the extent of decay or damage. Next, we carefully remove any decayed or damaged portions to prepare the site for restoration. After this, we create an impression of the tooth, which serves as a mold for the custom inlay or onlay.

  • Discuss material choices to find the best match for your needs.
  • Place a temporary filling to protect the tooth until the permanent restoration is ready.
  • Send the impression to a dental lab where the custom inlay or onlay is fabricated.
  • Schedule a follow-up appointment for the final placement.
  • Cement the inlay or onlay securely to restore the tooth’s function and appearance.

Each step ensures a precise and durable restoration.


Following the successful placement of your inlay or onlay, it’s essential to adhere to specific aftercare guidelines to ensure optimal healing and restoration longevity.

Avoid hard foods initially to prevent compromising the new restoration. Maintain meticulous oral hygiene by following proper flossing and brushing techniques as recommended by your dentist.

Minor discomfort may be expected for a few weeks as your mouth adjusts to the inlays or onlays. Regular dental visits are important for monitoring the restorations and ensuring their longevity.


To sum up, inlays and onlays play a crucial role in restorative dentistry. They provide a long-lasting solution for tooth decay and damage, preserving natural tooth structure and promoting long-term oral health. Based on our observations, patients often experience fewer complications and higher satisfaction levels.

Are inlays and onlays the ultimate answer to dental longevity? Our clinical evidence strongly supports this theory, positioning them as a preferred choice for both patients and dental professionals.

Experience the benefits of inlays and onlays for yourself at Bridgeview Dental in Austin, TX. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and find out if this restorative option is right for you.

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