Downtown Dental Excellence offers Inlays and Onlays in Cleveland, TX

After tooth decay or damage occurs, your tooth or teeth need to be repaired and restored. While there are a few different options for restoration—such as fillings and crowns—a couple of options that many people don’t consider are inlays and onlays. Both of these procedures involve the bonding of a restoration to a tooth in a way that actually strengthens the tooth—instead of weakening it like other restoration options.

It’s important to understand the difference between inlays and onlays, and whether or not either of these options are right for your needs.

Choose Downtown Dental Excellence for your Inlays or Onlays today. 

Smiling young woman in white shirt

What Are Dental Inlays?

Dental inlays are dental prosthetics—often made with ceramic or porcelain—that are shaped to fit within the grooves of the biting surface of a tooth. These are excellent options when there hasn’t been as much loss to a tooth’s surface.

What are Inlays For?

Inlays help to restore the strength of a patient’s tooth—allowing them to bite down and chew like they did before there was damage to the tooth. Their strength, along with their cosmetic appearance, make them an excellent restoration option for a damaged tooth.

Call Downtown Dental Excellence Today! (281) 592-0597

How are They Placed?

Before an inlay is placed, the decayed portion of a tooth is removed. During this process, the area may be numbed for comfort. Once the decay is removed, an impression will be made of the patient’s teeth that will then be sent to a lab to have the prosthetic constructed. The lab will create a perfect prosthetic using the impression that was made, and then will send it back to the dentist’s office. While this process is being completed, a temporary restoration may be placed.
Once the inlay is ready, the temporary restoration will be removed, and the replacement will be fitted. If the inlay fits properly, the restoration is bonded in place.

Why Inlays instead of Fillings?

While metal fillings are also a restoration option, many patients prefer inlays for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons include:

  • The ability of the inlay to blend in with the tooth it is being placed on, as well as the surrounding teeth.
  • The ability of the inlay to strengthen a tooth, instead of weakening it like a metal filling does.
  • The contour inlays provide for healthy gums.
  • The durability of inlays.

Speak with your dentist about whether inlays or metal fillings are the right option for your particular needs.

What are Onlays?

When more tooth structure is lost, onlays may be a better option than inlays. An onlay will generally cover one or more cusps of the tooth—making it larger than an inlay.

Why Would I Need an Onlay?

Just like with dental inlays, onlays are very well-fitted, and are able to withstand a lot of pressure. This makes them perfect for biting and chewing. Also like inlays, onlays are used to treat damage or decay that has occurred.

Call Downtown Dental Excellence Today! (281) 592-0597

Why an Onlay instead of a Crown?

You may be wondering why a you shouldn’t simply opt for a crown or filling. One reason for deciding to go with an onlay instead of a crown is the price. They are generally cheaper than dental crowns. Another reason is the fit of an onlay. Onlays fit extremely well, allowing you to keep the area clean much easier, and avoid future decay. Onlays also allow the dentist to save more of the healthy tooth—which is preferential.

It is important to note that onlays aren’t always a better option than crowns. They are generally only used to replace a portion of the tooth that is less than 50%. If the area that is damaged or decayed exceeds 50%, then onlays may not be an option.

The Onlay Process

The process of having an onlay placed is nearly identical to the process of having an inlay placed.

As with an inlay, the dentist will remove any decay from the affected tooth. They will then assess the extent of the damage, and see if an onlay or a dental crown would be a better option for restoration. Once they’ve decided, an impression will be made and sent to a lab for the onlay to be created. Because the dentist must wait for the creation of the onlay, a second appointment will be needed.

Once the onlay has returned, your dentist will check the fit. If it fits properly, they will finish the placement process.


Although there is no specific aftercare that is required for either inlays or onlays, it is important to consider why you are having them placed to begin with—which is generally due to poor oral care. Keep in mind that—while the restoration isn’t a part of your natural teeth—it is still attached to a healthy tooth. This means that—without proper care—your natural tooth can still suffer from decay. There are actually times where a crown needs to be placed after an onlay has already been placed, because the patient allowed their healthy tooth to be compromised with tooth decay. This adds unnecessary expense, time and sacrifice of your healthy tooth.

Make sure to take proper care of your teeth by brushing, flossing and rinsing them out at least twice a day. It is also extremely important to visit your dentist at least twice a year for checkups and cleanings. It is during these checkups that your dentist may be able to catch a cavity early, and place an inlay. If the cavity is allowed to form for too long, the pulp may be infected—requiring a root canal.

Fillings, Crowns, Inlays or Onlays?

There are often different options for treatment after a tooth has been damaged or has suffered from decay. It’s important to speak with your dentist about your treatment options—as well as the costs of the treatments.

Dental inlays and onlays are excellent, durable treatment options when a tooth needs to be restored after damage or decay.