Maintaining good oral health is crucial for your well-being. In cases where a tooth is severely damaged and cannot be filled, your dentist may recommend dental inlays and onlays as effective dental treatment options. Inlays and onlays are advanced restoration techniques that utilize durable materials like gold, composite, or porcelain to repair decayed or damaged teeth. They offer a conservative alternative when a full-coverage dental crown may be too aggressive for your teeth.

By choosing inlays and onlays to restore your damaged teeth, you can experience the benefits of both a natural feel and improved tooth function. The outcome of your dental procedure is vital for your well-being, which is why it is crucial to entrust your treatment to a skilled dentist. At Beach Dental Care Anaheim, we offer a range of dental care services to our clients, including inlays and onlays.

An Overview of Dental Inlays and Onlays

Tooth damage and decay are common issues that can lead to gum disease and bad breath, negatively impacting your smile. Fortunately, there are effective treatments available to restore the integrity of your teeth. You can explore various options for treating tooth decay and regain a healthy, confident smile.

Dental inlays and onlays are materials made of gold, composite, or porcelain that are used to repair teeth that are moderately decayed or damaged. When you find yourself in a dental situation where a tooth is too damaged for a filling but not damaged enough to require a dental crown, dentists often recommend this form of restorative treatment. This solution achieves a perfect balance between addressing the issue at hand and preserving your natural tooth.

Inlay is an ideal solution for preserving the health and strength of your teeth. It is composed of porcelain or other materials and is placed at the center of the decayed tooth. The dental inlay seamlessly blends with your natural enamel without causing discoloration. If there is decay in the center of your tooth, your dentist may recommend an inlay to fully restore its appearance and functionality.

If you are seeking a solution for extensive tooth damage, a dental onlay could be an ideal option for you. Unlike other dental treatments, an onlay is directly placed on the tooth,   covering the entire biting surface. Choosing a dental onlay can treat decay and restore chewing function. This particular option is designed to offer long-term outcomes while enhancing oral health.

Inlay and Onlay Materials

Dental inlays and onlays are restorative procedures that use different materials like composite, gold, or ceramic to fix teeth that are decayed or damaged. They offer a more natural and aesthetically pleasing look than traditional fillings.

Gold Material

The selection of materials for inlays and onlays has evolved. While gold was traditionally the preferred choice due to its durability, there are now alternative options available that can mimic the natural color of the teeth.

However, in cases of frequent damage to dental fillings, your dentist could still recommend gold as it provides excellent protection. While porcelain is visually appealing, it is also more susceptible to damage. Therefore, it is important to consider your dentist's advice when evaluating the most suitable option for your specific needs.

Gold onlays and inlays are renowned for their durability and resistance to fractures. This makes them an excellent choice for long-term use. Furthermore, this material demonstrates a high resistance to stains, making it ideal for areas where appearance is not the primary concern.

One drawback of using gold for restorative procedures is that it may not blend seamlessly with natural teeth, which can be a cosmetic concern for some individuals. Additionally, it’s important to note that gold can be relatively more expensive compared to other dental materials.

Ceramic Material

Ceramic inlays, made of porcelain, are widely used by dentists because they provide a natural-looking finish. Porcelain has become the preferred material in dental procedures for achieving aesthetic results by replicating the color and shine of natural teeth.

Some advantages of using ceramic material include:

  • Porcelain is a durable material that supports the health and function of your teeth. The dental inlays are durable, boasting a lifespan of up to thirty years. By choosing porcelain, you can avoid the costs and hassle of frequent replacements, which leads to long-term savings.
  • Porcelain inlays and onlays are more durable and resistant to temperature changes than amalgam fillings.
  • Restorative dental procedures aim to preserve and enhance a beautiful, natural smile. One effective way to achieve this is to ensure that the dental work seamlessly blends in with your natural teeth. Porcelain can be custom-made to match the color of your teeth for a natural look.

Composite Resin

A dentist can opt for composite resin instead of porcelain or gold since they are less likely to damage fillings and are stronger than traditional amalgam. Composite resin is an excellent choice for dental fillings due to its seamless blend with the natural color of teeth. However, it is important to note that composite resin may be less durable than gold or ceramic fillings and can be more prone to staining.

If you have a decayed or damaged tooth that needs dental onlays or inlays, your dentist can help you choose the material that fits both your budget and your needs.

Dental Inlay and Onlay Procedure

The treatment of dental inlays and onlays offers a promising solution for addressing tooth decay and dental damage. In the past, metal fillings were commonly used to fill cavities and cracks in teeth. However, they had a short lifespan and were not aesthetically pleasing.

Restorative procedures such as inlays and onlays use durable, tooth-like materials to restore both the function and appearance of teeth. Inlays and onlays are customized for a perfect fit and seamless blend with your teeth. Multiple dental visits may be required for the process.

The following procedure is followed in the placement of dental inlays and onlays:

Tooth Impression

When a patient requires inlays or onlays, the dentist will take a mold of the already-shaped cavity in the tooth. This mold is used to create a custom-made restoration that perfectly suits the individual needs of the patient. Additionally, depending on the chosen material for the restoration, such as ceramic, the patient may also need to select their preferred shade for the restoration.

Removal of Dental Cavity Fillings

Inlays and onlays are commonly used to replace fractured or damaged dental cavity fillings. During your initial dental appointment, the dentist will remove any previous fillings and damaged tooth tissue, creating a hollow space in the tooth. Next, the dentist will shape the tooth to make it easier to place the dental inlay or onlay.

Placement of Temporary Dental Filling

During the preparation of your inlay or onlay, a temporary filling will be placed to cover the cavity. This prevents food particles from entering and furthering tooth decay.

Inlay or Onlay Placement

Once your restoration is complete, it is recommended to schedule another appointment with your dentist. During this appointment, your dentist may administer local anesthesia to increase your comfort and reduce any potential pain during the procedure. Additionally, the dentist will remove the temporary filling and cement the dental inlay or onlay onto your tooth. After the placement, your dentist will ensure a comfortable bite by smoothing the tooth surface.

Tooth restoration with inlays or onlays is a safe dental procedure. However, like any dental treatment, it is important to be aware of potential complications, such as:

  • Shrinkage or expansion of the composite inlay could potentially lead to additional tooth damage.
  • Allergic reactions caused by anesthesia administration.
  • There is a risk of injury to your mouth and gums during the oral procedure.
  • The loss of the dental inlay or onlay could lead to additional decay.

Advantages of Dental Onlays and Inlays

Onlays and inlays are dental operations used to restore damaged teeth through decay or injury, with a focus on the prevention of tooth decay. If your dental condition has already developed, it is essential to seek immediate dental care to correct it and avoid further complications. Dental onlays and inlays are a better option than fillings as they are more comprehensive and conserve more tooth material than dental crowns.

When high-quality materials and good technology are used, inlays and onlays offer a range of benefits, including:

Conservative Restoration

Inlays and onlays are a less invasive dental treatment that enables the dentist to maintain more of your natural tooth structure. Unlike dental crowns that require the removal of a significant portion of the tooth, inlays, and onlays only necessitate the reduction of the affected area of the tooth before the restorative material is placed.

Experience Increased Durability and Strength

There are different materials used for dental fillings, including composite resin and amalgam. However, inlays and onlays are made of stronger materials, such as gold and porcelain, which can last up to thirty years. By utilizing these durable materials, you can enhance the strength of your tooth while simultaneously safeguarding the healthy portion from additional damage.

Gives a Natural Look

Achieving a natural look in restorative dental procedures is a top priority for many individuals. Inlay and onlay procedures provide a fantastic solution for replacing old amalgam restorations. By utilizing porcelain, these procedures can seamlessly blend with your natural teeth, thanks to its ability to be shade-matched. Not only does porcelain flawlessly replicate the shine of natural teeth, but it is also stain-resistant, ensuring that your beautiful smile remains vibrant for an extended period.


With dental insurance covering the costs of inlays and onlays, and the option to use a health savings fund for additional expenses, investing in these restorations is not only financially feasible but also beneficial for your oral health. While amalgam fillings may be less expensive, inlays and onlays offer a durable and lasting solution that helps prevent future tooth decay. Investing in these options proves to be worthwhile as they preserve the health of your teeth.

Better Margins and Less Expensive

Traditional dental fillings made of amalgam can potentially weaken and fracture teeth when exposed to temperature changes. Additionally, leftover food and bacteria trapped in small cracks can lead to recurrent tooth decay. However, porcelain inlays and onlays offer a durable and stable solution for treating tooth decay. They are resistant to temperature changes and provide long-lasting protection for your teeth.

Easy Care

Caring for your inlays and onlays is as important as taking care of your natural teeth. Remember to brush and floss daily to prevent any complications. It is essential to schedule regular dental check-ups at least twice a year to maintain the security of your restoration. If, by any chance, your inlay or onlay becomes loose or falls out, it is crucial to seek emergency dental services for immediate attention. Your oral health should always be your top priority.

One Visit Dental Procedure with CAD

Thanks to CAD technology, your dentist can now create and place dental onlays or inlays in one visit. This is made possible through the use of 3-D scanning and computer software, which allows for efficient crafting and design of custom restorations. By streamlining the process, dental function can be restored without any downtime.

Aftercare for Dental Inlay and Onlays

Proper care after dental restoration procedures, such as inlays and onlays, is essential for maintaining their longevity and protecting against plaque and bacterial buildup. It is important to take the time to understand the necessary steps to care for your teeth after the procedure. By following these tips, you can ensure a healthy smile that will last for years to come.

Your dental professional may recommend these tips to reduce the risk of oral diseases:

  • Maintaining good oral hygiene is essential for the health of your inlays. Inlays can trap food particles between teeth, causing tooth decay. Regular brushing and flossing can prevent decay and maintain strong inlays.
  • Taking care of your diet is crucial for maintaining good oral health, as the accumulation of sugar and starch on your teeth can lead to tooth decay by promoting bacterial growth. These bacteria are the cause of the erosion of the protective enamel on your teeth. To have a successful inlay and onlay procedure, dentists recommend avoiding sugary or acidic foods that can damage your teeth. By making mindful food choices, you can safeguard your dental health and keep a beautiful smile.
  • Regular dental checkups are crucial, even if you have had inlays or onlays fitted. These routine visits allow the dentist to inspect your restored tooth for any signs of cracks, disease, or damage. It is an important step in maintaining your oral health and ensuring the longevity of your oral cavity.

FAQs on Dental Inlay and Onlay

If you're about to undergo an inlay or onlay procedure, you may feel anxious about the outcome since dental treatments can affect your well-being. Nevertheless, it's important to keep in mind that taking the necessary measures to maintain your oral health is crucial for a positive outlook and well-being.

Here are some frequently asked questions regarding these restorative procedures:

Are Dental Inlays and Onlays Covered By Insurance?

Insurance policies cover inlays and onlays as they are considered procedures that restore decayed or damaged teeth. However, it is important to note that some insurers may not cover cosmetic procedures. Therefore, it is recommended to double-check with your insurance provider to ensure that the specific procedure you are considering is covered before proceeding with it.

Is A Veneer Considered A Dental Onlay?

When it comes to dental care, onlays and veneers serve different purposes. An onlay is used to protect and strengthen a damaged tooth, while veneers are used for cosmetic reasons, like addressing tooth discoloration. Both procedures utilize porcelain material and deliver long-lasting results.

What Are The Costs Of Dental Inlays And Onlays?

Investing in dental inlays and onlays may have a higher upfront cost compared to traditional dental fillings, but the benefits they offer make it a worthwhile investment. Not only do these treatments provide a natural look, but they also offer exceptional durability that surpasses traditional fillings.

While using quality materials may increase initial costs, choosing composite resin can reduce expenses without compromising treatment quality. However, opting for this option may result in discoloration and the need for more frequent replacements.

Investing in long-term aesthetics and durability is a wise decision for your dental health. The cost of dental onlay and inlay procedures varies depending on the extent and severity of tooth damage or decay. If extensive decay requires additional filling material, the cost will increase. It is important to consider your tooth's specific needs when budgeting for treatment.

Find a Skilled Anaheim Dentist Near Me

It's important to seek dental treatment if you're experiencing tooth decay. If left untreated, it can lead to gum disease, bad breath, and damage to nearby teeth. Furthermore, decaying teeth can impact your appearance. Taking action early can help you achieve a healthier smile and improve your physical outlook.

Dentists have varying approaches to dental treatments, depending on the severity of your tooth damage. If a tooth is too decayed for a filling or crown, inlays and onlays can serve as excellent alternatives. These solutions repair cavities and protect the healthy part of your tooth, preventing further harm. Our skilled dentists at Beach Dental Care Anaheim are ready to help treat tooth decay with dental inlays and onlays. Call us today at 714-995-4000.