Most dental problems, such as tooth cavities result from the lifestyle of snacking and reduced oral care. Our dental experts at Northridge Dentist can use Inlays and Outlays as restoration treatment for your cavities. When you seek our services, we will evaluate if this restorative technique is suitable for you and inform you about what to expect from the procedure.

What are Inlays and Onlays?

Inlays and Onlays are types of indirect restorations meant to treat tooth cavities. They are solid pieces of materials that can fit the specific cavity. The inlay usually covers the cusps of the teeth, specifically the molars and the premolars. In these procedures, there is less drilling of the teeth compared with getting a crown.


In some cases, the restoration process of a tooth can be hard, and a direct restoration procedure cannot work out. In such a case, using a composite or amalgam cannot work since it will compromise the structural suitability of the restored tooth or provide a substandard biting force. Therefore, the only way to handle such a situation would be through an inlay restoration.

Advantages of Inlays

Inlays have various advantages when compared with conventional dental procedures such as fillings. The benefits of inlays include:

  • Inlays are durable and strong, especially if they are made out of gold, which has exceptional longevity if one maintains proper care

  • Inlays can guarantee a natural aesthetic appearance, especially with ceramic inlays that match the teeth, making them indistinguishable from natural teeth

  • Ceramic inlays guarantee a better physical property compared with resin composite fillings, which are typical for posterior teeth

  • Inlays provide better contact points and contours, which are usually removed during conventional methods such as filling since they are custom-made in a laboratory

  • Resin inlays have low microleakage and less post-operational sensitivity compared to composite fillings

Although inlays pose several benefits to their users, several disadvantages might arise from its use. The downsides are as follows:

  • Inlays are quite expensive due to the dental laboratory work needed

  • It is quite long since it requires two appointments and a lengthy chair time during the procedure

  • It can present problems over time such as minute leakage and food staining

  • It is hard to ensure that the tooth does not turn out to be sensitive and remove the undercuts

  • The ceramic and composite inlays have low strength than other material such as gold

  • There is a risk of losing vitality while removing the tooth

  • It is quite long-lasting but might require replacement

  • It is difficult to repair the inlay

  • Ceramic can be brittle


Onlays are similar to inlays, although they are located in different tooth areas and can treat larger areas. They are also referred to as partial crowns since they can cover a relatively large part of the tooth. Onlays are located on the biting surface and extend to more than one cusp, unlike inlays that are placed on the cusps.

Advantages of Onlays

When a dentist decides to restore your teeth using Onlays, several advantages come into place. Some of the benefits of Onlays are as follows:

  • Dental Onlays are durable, especially those made out of resin and porcelain. These two materials are incredibly durable and allow the outlays to maintain an ideal size and shape. They tend to last longer compared to conventional products such as fillings and crowns

  • Onlays also have the advantage of preserving the structure of a tooth. In their placement, the dentist usually removes the damaged part of the tooth and reshape it. The Onlay is attached to the tooth and works as a complement to the bite as well as provide support

  • Onlays protect weak and vulnerable teeth, which does away with the need to do additional dental work in the future

  • Dental Onlays offer a tight and secure fit, making it easy to talk and eat while they are in place. Also, they provide a close fit that makes it hard for bacteria from seeping inside the restoration

  • Onlays offer a natural look on the person wearing them. They can be customized to match the natural appearance of the teeth and have stain-resistant properties as well.

Here are some of the disadvantages of Onlays:

  • You might need two appointments instead of one compared with a dental filling. In the first appointment, the dentist will prepare the area and take an impression of the teeth. The dentist will also put in a temporary restoration during this appointment. In the second appointment, the dentist does away with the temporary restoration and places the Onlay. The dentist will then polish and send the patient back home.

  • Onlays are quite expensive compared with traditional filings since they have to be customized in a laboratory. However, they are quite long-lasting, which saves your expenses in the long term.

When You Should Seek Inlays and Onlays

A dentist will recommend this kind of dental procedure if you have damaged rear teeth and are extensively damaged to the point of not needing a crown. Inlays and Onlays are used when the teeth are fractured, cracked or decayed, and the damage is quite mild or moderate. It can also work as a cavity filling process, although in rare cases.

Other than the recommendation provided by the dentist, you might decide on these procedures out of various considerations. Here are factors that might prompt you to seek inlays and Onlays as your primary dental procedures.

Maintaining a Natural Look into Your Smile

You can use different ways to brighten your natural teeth. However, it might be hard to achieve such an expectation without doing away with the yellow smile. However, with porcelain Onlays, you can maintain the whitened teeth that you want to achieve as you protect your teeth. At the same time, you will not appear to have a fake tooth.

Extending the Longevity of Your Teeth

If you are looking to extend the longevity of your teeth, then you can use inlays and Onlays, Materials such as gold and porcelain have long durability and can withstand traditional degradation. Their lifetime can surpass other restorative dentistry options such as fillings and crowns, and one does not necessarily have to replace the tooth soon.

Seeking a Durable Option to Damaged Teeth

Your dentist can recommend Onlays and inlays as a suitable solution for your damaged teeth; Inlays are ideal for addressing cavities and other damage while Onlays take care of severe damageS that affect the cusps of the teeth. Your dentist will cement the damaged tooth using the material used for both procedures.

Since the materials are cemented in the tooth, they form an extremely durable option for your damaged teeth. Also, the cement creates a tight seal on the teeth that inhibits further infection, inflammation, and damage.

Seeking a Safe Dental Procedure

The most significant thing about this type of restorative dentistry is the level of safety that it guarantees. One can ensure the safety of the teeth with these procedures based on the cement that they form over the teeth. Due to the adhesive, infection-causing bacteria does not find its way to your teeth and compromise their integrity.

Guaranteeing a Strong Smile

Inlays and Onlays protect your teeth from damage or infection but also ensures their strength. With other restorative procedures such as metal filings, the strength of your teeth is compromised, whereas, in Onlays and inlays, the strength is maximized by 75%. If you have weak teeth, there are possibilities of getting infections in the long run.

Doing Away with the Worry of Expanding your Fillings

Inlays and Onlays are better alternatives to fillings and crowns. Although filings are ideal for suitable patients, they might end up expanding or contracting over time. In that case, they need replacement, meaning that you might incur an additional dental bill.

However, with Onlays and inlays, you should not worry about the risk of expansion. Materials such as gold and porcelain have high durability hence no need for expansion.

Saving Your Future Bills

You can significantly eliminate your dental bills by investing in inlays and Onlays. These are long-lasting options that have high durability, which cuts down your future expenses to a great extent. Such a position allows you to direct all your intended costs to other significant aspects of your livelihood.

Materials Used to Make Inlays and Onlays

Several materials are used in the installation of inlays and Onlays. Clients have the chance to choose any material according to their financial capacity. The materials used in this restorative dentistry differ according to properties and are as follows:


The usage of gold in inlays and Onlays has been fading over time since it is more of an aesthetic option rather than a restorative material. However, it harbors some properties that make it a suitable alternative. These properties are as follows:

  • It is durable and ductile

  • It can accurately cast on the teeth without opposing the dentition, meaning that there is no need of removing a lot of dentin while preparing the teeth

With these two properties, one can easily choose gold as a suitable option even when he or she has no concern over its aesthetic features.


The use of ceramic in restorative dentistry dates backs in the 1900s. It offers a better aesthetically pleasing dental repair option due to its natural color compared with amalgam and gold. Also, Ceramic has high wear resistance, making it a suitable choice for many people.

Although it matches such properties, it must use a metal reinforcement since it has reduced strength and is prone to failure. Reinforcement is necessary since conventional ceramic has a high fracture rate and can easily break when put under pressure. In that case, the ceramic is placed in a cross-section of a minimum of 2mm to compensate for its fragility. They can also be abrasive to the opposite tooth surface during mastication. During tooth preparation, it must be tapered, whereas undercuts are eliminated by preparing the teeth further and blocking it out with an adhesive tooth.


Resin composite is a widely preferred restorative material in dentistry, both directly or indirectly. It exists in different forms that differ in size. This type of restorative material offers a remarkable aesthetic option with a combination of various opacities and shades that are used in the layering technique, which equals and surpasses the aesthetically pleasing property. It can also be easily modified as a composite and bond with the existing material.

A person using direct restoration, there are high chances of shrinkage, although this can be avoided in a laboratory through an immediate composite repair. However, the use of an in-depth curing method, heat, pressure, and intense light can lower the polymerization shrinkage. Also, the process of making the composite in a laboratory reduces the polymerization process compared with a chairside curing process.


This kind of restoration material was developed to determine whether the benefits of the all-ceramic option can be copied while improving the stability and strength of the restoration. After a study, it was found that the metal-ceramic has a lower fracture resistance compared with the all-ceramic option. Also, it was further noticed that the taper used to prepare the inlay determines the extent of the strength of the restoration compared with the choice of material.

What to Expect During Inlays and Onlays Procedures

Several processes follow during an inlay or Onlay procedure. The process used in both options is similar. Typically, the whole process will take two dental visits to complete. However, an alternative such as CEREC technology requires a single dental visit. Here is a breakdown of what you expect during your two-days dentist visit.

Cleaning and Preparing

In this process, the dentist will use a unique instrument to do away with the decayed parts of the tooth. The dentist will numb you with your local anesthesia before taking the procedure to make you comfortable. The dentist will also remain conservative with the removal of damage to avoid affecting the natural tooth structure.

Tooth Impression

The dentist will create an impression of your teeth to determine how the dental putty will be positioned. The mold will then be taken to the laboratory for fabrication.

Placement of the Restoration Temporary

Since you have to wait for a day to receive your inlays or Onlays, you will get a temporary filling that will protect your teeth before the next appointment.

Cleaning and Preparation

In the second visit, your dentist will set forth into cleaning and preparing your tooth for the permanent inlay or Onlay. The dentist will remove the temporary filling and fit the restoration into place.

Fitting and Bonding

Your dentist will check whether the inlay or Onlay are fitted correctly before bonding it to your tooth with the dental cement. Once the fit looks and feels right, the dentist will expertly polish the restoration until it appears smooth like your natural teeth.

Same-day CEREC Inlays and Onlays

If your dentist suggests a CEREC inlay or Onlay, the entire process will be completed in one appointment. In this process, the dentist will skip the temporary filling and the time you have to wait between two meetings. Here is what you will expect in a same-day CEREC process.

  • The dentist will start by cleaning and preparing your tooth and probably take a digital impression of your oral structure

  • Depending on your model, the dentist will construct the inlay or Onlay with special software that can send your print through an office-milling machine

  • The ceramic inlays or Onlays will be made right inside the dental office as you wait. The dentist will also size and shape it to match your natural teeth structure

  • The inlays or Onlays are then fitted onto your tooth and bonded if it fits your teeth properly

Pros of CEREC Procedure

With the invention of a new repair method, there are several advantages of CEREC. Here are a few benefits that hail from CEREC.


The best reason for considering CEREC Onlays and inlays is its speed. It is made in the spot and does not require the patient to visit the dental office through two appointments.


CEREC guarantees satisfaction and is incomparable with traditional options. CEREC removes the requirement of a middleman needed in creating a dental crown in a laboratory that would delay the process. In that case, there is no waiting making it a convenient way to get your Onlays or inlays.


CEREC uses CAD/CAM technology that does not make permanent restoration but makes permanent ones within the first visit. Therefore, there is no need for a temporary repair, which is not entirely comfortable since they are not precise to the mouth structure.


The greatest thing about CEREC is not worrying about the quality used in the dental crown. The procedure uses high-end technology, which is precise to the mouth of the patient, which guarantees a quality outcome.

What You Should Do Before and After Inlays or Onlays Procedure

Clients should consider several factors before an inlay or an Onlay procedure. In the preparation process before the procedures, there is not much you should do since the dentist will usually do most of the preparation. Preferably, you should avoid changing your dental care, but maintain the standard procedures to prevent any changes with your tooth. Your dentist would prefer to find your teeth as they are to have a better understanding of your condition.

When it comes to aftercare, you should consider several aspects to achieve remarkable results. One might experience minimal tissue sensitivity that will only last for a day or two. You can use some over-the-counter reliever as a relief to the sensitivity. Your dentist will also recommend several instructions which might include the following:

  • Avoid hot and cold foods or beverages as well as sticky foods while the mouth is still numb or if you are still experiencing the sensitivity

  • Be careful with your bite. If you do not feel right with your bite, you should contact your dentist right away before any complications develop

  • Once the soreness or numbness subsides, employ relevant care measures to your inlays or Onlays similar to what you could have done to your teeth. Do not chew hard or sticky food since it might damage or break the restoration. Also, brush twice a day, floss once every day, and seek regular teeth cleaning and examination. In doing so, you will keep the repair safe and enjoy it for years.

Cost of Inlays and Onlays

The cost of inlays ranges between $250 to $1,500, while an Onlay would cost between $350 to $1,500. Various factors might impact the value of either procedure, such as:

  • The level of experience of the dentist: Experienced dentist would probably be more expensive compared to less experienced ones

  • Your location: The cost of inlays and Onlays vary from one place to the other due to its popularity and number of dentists offering these services

  • The teeth that are being worked on: Teeth at the back of the mouth are hard to work compared with the ones at the front. Therefore, you might have to pay more if you want to have them restored

  • The kind of material used: Materials such as gold are quite expensive compared with others, hence their high pricing

  • The size of inlay or Onlay: Large materials will cost more compared with small ones

Your dental insurance might cover the cost based on their policies. Since this is a restorative procedure, there are chances of their coverage. However, it might be different if you intend to include some aesthetic factors, and they might end up covering some of the expenses. Make sure that you consult your insurance company before you seek any of these procedures.

Find a Northridge Dentist Near Me

Inlays and Onlays can be excellent restorative dental procedures for your damaged tooth. However, the success of the process depends on the dentist that you choose. Your dentist should be well skilled in performing restorative dental procedures to ensure you get the best results. If you are looking for an experienced dentist to evaluate your condition and perform Inlays and Onlays restorative procedures, get in touch with Northridge Dentist at 818-875-0216.