Inlays & Onlays

When more than half of the tooth’s biting surface is compromised or the tooth has fractured, your prosthodontist may use an inlay or an onlay.

What are inlays/onlays?

Inlays/onlays are made of high-strength porcelain or gold. These restorations are bonded to the damaged area of the tooth. An inlay (which is similar to a filling) is used inside the cusp tips of the tooth. An onlay is a slightly more substantial restoration but covers at least one of the cusps of the tooth.

Traditionally, gold has been the material of choice for inlays/onlays. In recent years, however, porcelain has become increasingly popular due to its strength and color which can potentially match the natural color of your teeth.

How are they applied?

Inlays/onlays require two appointments to complete the procedure. During the first visit, the filling being replaced or the damaged/decayed area of the tooth is removed and the tooth is prepared (shaped) for the inlay or onlay. To ensure proper fit and bite, a digital impression of the tooth is made by the dentist and sent to our lab for fabrication. The dentist will then apply a temporary restoration on the tooth and a subsequent appointment will be scheduled.

At the second appointment, the temporary restoration is removed. Dr. Abjanich, Dr. Goldin or Dr. Donovan will then make sure that the inlay/onlay meets their standards for accuracy and beauty. The  restoration will be bonded to the tooth with a strong cement and polished to a smooth finish.


Traditional fillings can reduce the strength of a natural tooth and will break down overtime. As an alternative, inlays/onlays that are bonded directly onto the tooth using high-strength materials, can provide a much longer term solution for your tooth. They can last for many years. 

Our prosthodontists prefer to be as conservative as possible and will use inlays and onlays over crowns when feasible!