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Inlays and Onlays

A dental inlay is a lot like a filling, with the difference that it rests within the bumps on the tooth chewing surface. A dental onlay can cover several cusps or bumps, and are larger than inlays.

Inlays or onlays are smaller than crowns, but bigger than fillings. These are made of composite resin, ceramics or gold, and can be bonded into place. They are long lasting, and the duration of their lifespan depends on:

  • The teeth that need treatment
  • Materials
  • Chewing pressure
  • The patient’s oral hygiene habits
  • Dental inlays or onlays are used in the restoration of decayed teeth.


Your dentist will first numb the tooth, as well as the surrounding area using a local anesthetic. Patients may also receive other types of sedation, like nitrous oxide.

Indirect inlays and onlays take up to two visits for placement, and these are made in a dental laboratory.

Indirect Inlays and Onlays

The decay will be removed, and then an impression will be made of the tooth to be treated, as well as the surrounding teeth. Your dentist will place a temporary filling on the tooth, and will send the impression to the laboratory, where the inlay or onlay will be made.

When you visit the dentist's office for the second time, the temporary filling will be removed, and the teeth will be cleaned. The inlay or onlay will be cemented to the tooth, and then polished. After this, the inlay or onlay may be reshaped to adjust to fit your teeth.

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