Taking proper care of your teeth ensures good oral health and overall wellbeing. When you visit a dentist with a tooth too damaged to fill, they may offer inlay and onlay as dental treatment options. Inlays and onlays are dental restoration forms that use gold, composite, or porcelain materials to repair decayed and damaged teeth.

Typically, inlays and onlays are used when full coverage using a dental crown could be aggressive for your teeth. Inlays and onlays restore your damaged teeth and give you a natural feel while restoring the tooth function.

The outcome of dental procedures can significantly impact your outlook and overall well-being. Therefore, it is crucial to seek treatment from a skilled dentist. At La Puente Advanced Dentistry, we offer dental services to clients looking to have inlays and onlays done in La Puente, CA.

What are Inlays and Onlays?

Tooth damage and decay could happen from time to time. Tooth decay can not only result in gum disease, but it can also cause bad breath and ruin your smile. Often the treatment for such a complication is aimed at restoring the integrity of your teeth. There are several options you can explore for tooth decay treatment.

Dental inlays and onlays are gold, composite, or porcelain materials used to repair moderately decayed or damaged teeth. Often your dentist will recommend this form of restorative treatment if your tooth is too damaged for a filling but not damaged enough to require a dental crown.

A dental inlay or only helps to save the healthy part of your tooth and strengthen the tooth. An inlay involves the placement of the porcelain or other materials at the center of the decayed tooth. Porcelain blends well with the tooth enamel and does not discolor. When your tooth has decay in the center, your dentist could recommend an inlay.

Onlay, on the other hand, works differently since the material is placed on the tooth. Onlay could cover the entire biting surface of the tooth depending on the extent of the decay. An onlay may be the best option if your tooth has extensive damage in the chewing area.

Inlay and Onlay Materials

Inlays and onlays are made using different materials, including composite, gold, and ceramic:

Gold Material

In the past, the material choice for inlays and onlays was gold. Gold is highly durable and can adequately protect your teeth from weakness caused by trauma and cavities. With the introduction of restorations that mimic the tooth color, this material is less common. Your dentist could recommend gold inlays or onlays when there is constant damage to the filling. Although porcelain is aesthetically appealing, it is more prone to damage.

Gold inlays and onlays are more robust and less likely to fracture over time. Also, this material is stain resistant and can be used in the mouth where appearance is not essential. One of the setbacks of using gold for this restorative procedure is that the material does not blend in with natural teeth and is very costly.

Ceramic Material

Ceramic inlay or only is made of porcelain. Dentists often use porcelain to assume a natural look in dental procedures. This is because the material can mimic the natural color and shine of natural teeth. Some of the advantages of using porcelain include:

  • The material is strong and durable. The strength of porcelain allows the material to support the health art of your tooth to continue to function normally. Also, inlays made of porcelain can last up to thirty years, thus saving you the cost of constant replacement.
  • Blends in with natural teeth. One of the goals of restorative dental procedures is to maintain a great and natural smile. Since porcelain can be made to fit the color of your teeth, it provides the desired natural look.
  • Porcelain is less prone to fractures when compared to amalgam fillings. Unlike dental fillings, inlays and onlays made of porcelain will not contract or expand when the temperature fluctuates.

Composite Resin

Your dentist may opt to place inlays and onlays made of composite resin as an alternative to gold and porcelain. This material is stronger and less prone to damage and fractures compared to traditional amalgam fillings. Also, composite resin has a color that blends well with the teeth. Composite resin is not as strong as gold and ceramic and may be prone to staining.

If your dentist determines that you require inlays or onlays for your decayed or damaged tooth, they will guide you on choosing the material that suits your need and is within your budget.

Inlay and Onlay Procedure

Inlays and onlays treatment offers an appealing solution to the treatment of tooth decay and dental damage. In the past, cavities and cracks on the teeth were filled using metal fillings which do not last long and are not aesthetically appealing. Restorative procedures like inlays and onlays use strong and tooth-like materials to restore the appearance and function of your teeth. Inlays and onlays are custom-made for a perfect fit and blend, and you may need to make several dental visits. The following is the procedure followed in the placement of inlays and Onlays:

  • Removal of Cavity Fillings

In most cases, inlay and onlay replaced damaged and fractured cavity fillings. During your first dental visit, your dentist will remove prior placements. Also, any damaged tooth tissue is removed, leaving a hollow space on the tooth. The dentist will then shape your tooth to allow for easier placement of inlay or onlay.

  • Tooth Impression

Since inlays and onlays are custom-made to fit individual needs, the dentist will mold the already shaped cavity in your tooth. The mold is used to determine the material to be used for your inlay or onlay. If you opt for ceramic material, you may also need to pick the shade of restoration you prefer

  • Placement of Temporary Filling

While the dentist prepares your inlay or onlay, they will place a temporary filling to cover the cavity. This can help prevent the entry of food particles and further tooth decay.

  • Inlay or Onlay Placement

After your restoration is made, you must make another appointment to have it placed. During this appointment, your dentist may put you on local anesthesia to increase comfort and reduce pain during the procedure. The dentist will remove the temporary filling and cement the onlay or inlay into the tooth. After the placement, your dentist will smooth your tooth surface to ensure you have a comfortable bite.

Tooth restoration with inlays or onlays is a particularly safe procedure. However, like other dental procedures, some of the following complications may arise:

  • Allergic reactions due to the anesthesia.
  • Expansion or shrinkage of the composite inlay could result in further tooth damage.
  • Injury to your gums and mouth during the procedure.
  • Loss of the inlay or onlay that causes further decay.

Advantages of Inlay and Onlay

Inlays and onlays help in the restoration of damaged teeth or those that are compromised by tooth decay. Mostly, dental care is best when done to prevent tooth decay from occurring. However, if the condition has already developed, it is crucial to seek immediate dental care to correct it and avoid further complications. Inlays and onlays are more comprehensive when compared to fillings and conserve more teeth material than dental crowns. When high-quality materials and good technology is used, inlays and onlays offer the following benefits:

Conservative Restoration

Inlays and onlays are more conservative and allow the dentist to preserve more of your natural tooth. Compared to a dental crown, inlay and onlay require the dentist to reduce only the affected part of your tooth before placing the restorative material. On the other hand, a dental crown requires the dentist to remove a large part of the tooth to accommodate the crown.

Increased Strength and Durability

Dental fillings contain amalgam or composite resin. Inlays and onlays, on the other hand, are made using stronger materials like porcelain and gold. This durable material could help strengthen the tooth for up to thirty years. Also, the materials used for inlay and onlay support the healthy part of your tooth to prevent damage.

Provides a Natural Look

Looking as natural as possible is the main goal of many restorative dental procedures. Inlay and onlay replace the old amalgam restorations. Porcelain can be easily shade-matched to blend with your natural teeth and perfectly mimic natural teeth' shine. Also, porcelain can be stain-resistant, which gives you the confidence of a great and long-lasting smile.


Mostly, inlay and onlays are covered partially or fully by dental insurance. Also, you can use a health savings fund to cover the additional costs. Although onlays and inlays are more expensive than amalgam fillings, their durability is worth the investment. Additionally, the inlay and onlay help curb tooth decay in its first stages, thus protecting the integrity of your oral health.

Less Expensive and Better Margins

The basic dental filling uses amalgam, a material that expands and contracts with fluctuation in temperature. This can result in weakening and fracture of the tooth. Small cracks on the tooth enamel could harbor leftover foods and bacteria, which could cause recurring tooth decay. Porcelain inlay and onlay do not change in shape or size with temperature change. Therefore, their strong structure provides a long-term solution for your tooth decay.

Easy Care

Taking care of inlays and onlays is no different from routine care for natural teeth. After your last appointment, you need to brush and floss daily to help avoid further complications. Also, it would be best if you made at least two dental vests a year to ensure your restoration is secure. If our inlay or onlay loosens or falls out, it would be wise to seek emergency dental services.

One Visit Procedure with CAD

With the use of CAD technology, your dentist can take your impression, design, and craft your inlay or onlay within one visit. This system uses advanced computer softwares and a 3-D scanner. Having your inlay or onlay placed within one visit will help reduce the amount of time you spend at the dentist's office. Since inlay and onlay do not need downtime, you can walk out of your dentist's office with a restored dental function

Aftercare for Inlay and Onlay

Dental restoration using inlay and onlay often takes a few days. However, your teeth may still be susceptible to plaque or buildup of bacteria over time. Therefore, you must understand how to care for your teeth following these procedures. Your dentist may recommend the following tips to help reduce the chances of oral diseases:

  • Practice proper oral hygiene. Inlays often extend to the spaces between your teeth. These areas may be difficult to clean, and when food particles accumulate in these spaces, they can result in further tooth decay. Therefore regular brushing and flossing of your teeth will help keep the inlays strong.
  • Watch your diet. Tooth decay is often a result of the accumulation of sugar and starch on your teeth. Sugary foods promote the growth of bacteria that are responsible for the corrosion of the tooth enamel. After the inlay and onlay procedures, your dentist may recommend that you avoid sugary or highly acidic foods.
  • Regular dental checkups. Fitting the inlays or onlays is not the end of your dental visits. It will help if you make regular dental checkups. During your appointments, the dentist examines the restored tooth for cracks, disease, or damage.

Frequently Asked Questions on Inlay and Onlay

Having an inlay or onlay procedure may be stressful. It is common for patients to be afraid of what is to come. This is because outcomes of dental procedures could have a significant effect on your general outlook and wellbeing. Some of the frequently asked questions regarding these restorative procedures include:

  1. What is the difference between fillings, inlay, and onlay?

Normally, an onlay covers a bump, while an inlay is fitted to cover a larger cavity on the tooth. Since both inlay and onlay are made of materials like gold and ceramic, they do not react with temperature change. On the other hand, fillings are made of amalgam and can only cover small cavities.

Restorative treatment with onlay or inlay will require you to make at least two dental visits. During the first visit, your dentist removes the damaged part of the crown to create an impression. Following this, an impression is used to create an inlay or onlay fitted on the second visit. A dental filling can be completed with one visit, but you may need to replace it after several years. Consulting a skilled dentist for your dental decay would help you explore your options depending on the extent of your tooth damage.

  1. Does insurance cover inlays and onlays?

Yes. Several policies cover inlays and onlays. Most insurance companies are reluctant to cover cosmetic procedures, and inlay is not one of them. Mostly, this procedure is aimed at restoring teeth that are decayed or damaged. Before you go in for the procedure, it would be wise to check with your insurance provider to make sure that you are covered.

  1. Is a veneer considered an Onlay?

No. An onlay is used to fill a cavity or crack on the tooth to protect it from damage and strengthen the tooth structure. On the other hand, veneers are purely cosmetic and are placed on the front part of the teeth visible when you smile. Veneers are used to correct issues of tooth discoloration. However, the two procedures share a similarity in that they are made using porcelain and provide long-lasting service.

  1. How much do inlays and onlays cost?

You can expect to pay more for inlays and onlays than a dental filling. This is because the materials used for this procedure are quite expensive. However, their natural look and durability are worth the investment. You can pay less for inlay or onlay if you opt for composite resin. However, you may have to deal with discoloration and constant replacement.

The amount you pay for inlay and onlay will significantly depend on your tooth's extent of damage or decay. If the decay is deep and spread out, more material will fill it, increasing the cost.

Find a Skilled La Puente Dentist Near Me

If you suffer from tooth decay, you need to visit your dentist for treatment as soon as possible. When left untreated, tooth decay could affect the surrounding teeth, cause gum disease, and bad breath? Additionally, decayed teeth are not appealing to the eye and could affect your physical outlook.

When you visit a dentist, several treatment approaches depend on the severity of the damage to the tooth. In cases where a tooth is too decayed to fill and a dental crown is not an option, the dentist could opt for an inlay or onlay. Inlays and onlays are designed to repair cavities caused by tooth decay and protect the healthy part of your tooth from damage.

Our dentists at La Puente Advanced Dentistry are on standby to treat your tooth decay using inlays and onlays if you need these dental services in La Puente, CA. Call us today at 626-626-7075 to schedule an appointment.