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Illustration of inlay and onlay

Inlays and Onlays

When decay affects the chewing surface of a molar, a filling may be insufficient to restore the tooth. 

If the damage is not extensive enough to warrant a crown, an inlay or onlay may be the best solution.

What makes these restorations special?

Durable Protection for Damaged Teeth

Relieve Discomfort and Restore Health

Decay can make teeth extra sensitive and eventually lead to tooth loss. An inlay or onlay can repair the tooth, alleviating sensitivity and preventing further decay.

More Conservative than Crowns

Crowns require your dentist to remove a significant portion of the tooth to accommodate the restoration. As an intermediate step between fillings and crowns, an inlay or onlay requires only a small amount of enamel removal.

Beautiful, Natural-Looking Results

Inlays and onlays are typically made of medical-grade porcelain, which can be shade-matched to blend seamlessly into your smile. Porcelain mimics the sheen of natural enamel and can strengthen a molar by up to 75 percent.

When will a dentist recommend an inlay or onlay?

Having Tooth Decay Does Not Mean You Have Poor Oral Hygiene

91% of American adults between age 20 and 64 have a cavity*Reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

What is the difference between an inlay and an onlay?

Will Insurance Cover an Inlay or Onlay?

The price of an inlay or onlay generally ranges from $650 to $1,200 per tooth without coverage. However, since inlays and onlays primarily serve a practical purpose, many insurance plans cover part or all of the costs associated with the procedure. Out-of-pocket costs for insured patients range from $40 to $100 for a porcelain restoration. The overall cost will ultimately vary depending on the type of material used, the extent of damage or decay, and the dentist’s level of expertise.

Let’s look at what receiving an inlay or onlay involves

What else can you tell me about this treatment?

A One-Visit Procedure with CAD/CAM

Inlays and onlays can be expertly fabricated in a laboratory or milled using CAD/CAM (computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacture) technology to blend with your smile for beautiful, natural-looking results. With CAD/CAM technology, your dentist can design and craft a custom inlay or onlay in a single visit.

This system combines advanced computer software, a 3-D scanner, and an in-office milling unit. This means less time spent in the dentist’s chair, as well as a faster, more convenient solution. Inlays and onlays require no additional downtime, so you can leave the office with fully restored dental function.

Easy Care for a Long-Lasting Restoration

Amalgam fillings expand and contract with temperature fluctuations, which can cause the tooth to weaken or fracture. Small cracks and breaks can harbor bacteria and result in tooth decay. In contrast, porcelain inlays and onlays do not change size or shape with varying temperatures. Their structure makes them a more stable solution in the long-term.

Consequently, daily at-home care for inlays and onlays is no different than that of healthy, natural teeth. You should brush and floss daily and visit the dentist for biannual checkups to ensure your restoration is strong and secure. Should your inlay or onlay become loose, painful, crack, or fall out completely, contact your dentist as soon as possible to schedule a visit.

Do I need an inlay or onlay?

Finding the Right Solution

Tooth decay can only become worse without prompt treatment. If you are not attending biannual checkups, or if you are experiencing symptoms of tooth decay, schedule a visit with your doctor!

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Dr Perry is a great dentist. Very kind and informative. I feel like he is personally invested in my health. He always takes the time to sit and discuss any issues I'm having - I never feel like they're rushing me out.

-Channa B.