How Inlays and Onlays Can Restore Your Teeth and Boost Your Confidence

May 01, 2023

What Are Inlays and Onlays?

Inlays and onlays in Knoxville, TN, are similar but different restorations used to repair damaged or decayed teeth. Both can feature different materials, including porcelain, gold, or composite resin.

An inlay is a custom-made filling typically placed within the grooves of a tooth’s chewing surface. Dentists in Knoxville, TN, use inlays to restore a tooth’s shape, function, and strength. Inlays are often necessary when a tooth has moderate to severe decay that cannot be repaired with a traditional filling but does not require a full dental crown.

An onlay is similar to an inlay but covers a larger portion of the tooth’s surface. Dentists use onlays when the damage or decay extends beyond the grooves of the chewing surface and onto one or more of the tooth’s cusps (the raised points on the tooth surface). Therefore, Onlays are also called partial crowns. A dentist near you will likely employ an onlay when the damage is not severe enough to merit a dental crown but is too significant for an inlay or dental filling. Onlays feature the same materials as inlays, designed to provide additional support and strength to the tooth.

How Are Inlays and Onlays Placed?

Both inlays and onlays near you are custom-made in a dental laboratory and require at least two appointments to complete. During the first appointment, the dentist at TLC Dental Care will remove the damaged or decayed portion of the tooth, then start making an impression of it to create a model for the restoration. The model will help to fabricate the inlay or onlay in the laboratory, which is later returned to the dentist for placement during the second appointment. Meanwhile, your dentist will place a temporary dental filling over the tooth to protect it before the next dental visit.

During the second appointment, the dentist will remove the temporary filling and clean it in preparation for the final restoration. The dentist thoroughly checks the inlay or onlay for fit and color match before installation. If necessary, adjustments can be made to ensure a comfortable and natural-looking result.

Once the restoration is ready, the dentist near you will use a dental adhesive to bond the inlay or onlay to the tooth. A special curing light or laser will harden the adhesive while the dentist removes any excess material. Finally, (s)he will check the bite to ensure it is comfortable and adjust the restoration if necessary.

Inlays and Onlays Offer Several Benefits Over Traditional Fillings

Inlays and onlays offer several benefits over traditional fillings, including:

  1. Durability: Inlays and onlays typically feature more durable materials than traditional fillings, such as porcelain or gold, which can last longer than amalgams or composite fillings.
  2. Strength: Inlays and onlays provide greater strength and support to the tooth than traditional fillings, which can help to prevent further damage or decay.
  3. Aesthetics: Inlays and onlays can be custom-made to match the color of your natural teeth, providing a more natural and seamless appearance than traditional silver amalgam fillings.
  4. Comfort: Inlays and onlays can be more comfortable than traditional fillings, as they are custom-made to fit the contours of your teeth and do not shrink or expand as some filling materials can.

Are Inlays and Onlays Right for You?

It is best to allow Dr. Terrie Cribbs to help you determine if inlays or onlays are the best options for your needs. Whether inlays and onlays are right for you depends on the specific condition of your teeth and the extent of the damage or decay.

Inlays and onlays may be better for teeth with moderate to severe decay or damage that cannot be repaired with a traditional filling but do not require a full dental crown. Generally, they are a good option if you are looking for a more durable and long-lasting restoration than a traditional filling.

Allow your dentist to evaluate your mouth and recommend the best treatment option after considering various factors, including the size and location of the damaged or decayed area, the condition of the tooth, and your overall dental health.


After the restorative procedure with inlays or onlays, maintain good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing regularly and visiting the dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings. With proper care, inlays and onlays can last for many years.

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