Inlays and Onlays

At Glen Ellyn Dentistry, we work with our patients to protect the health and integrity of their natural teeth. When significant damage is present, an inlay or onlay can be an effective method for restoring and protecting the natural tooth. 

What Are Inlays and Onlays?

Inlays and onlays are custom-designed and manufactured dental restorations. They are usually either made of tooth-colored porcelain or gold, depending on the location of the restoration and the patient’s preferences. 

Inlays or onlays can be used to repair teeth that have withstood significant damage or decay but are not so far compromised as to require a dental crown. 

The Difference Between Inlays and Onlays


Inlays are a dental restoration designed to replace the chewing surface of a tooth up to its cusps (the outer ridges on top of the tooth).


An onlay is a dental restoration designed to replace the chewing surface of a tooth within and including any portion of the tooth’s cusps. 

How Inlays and Onlays Differ From Dental Fillings

Inlays and onlays are custom-made dental restorations fabricated in a professional dental laboratory. They are designed to replace and restore a significant portion of a tooth that is either missing or has been severely damaged.

Traditional dental fillings, on the other hand, are not fabricated before placement. Instead, traditional dental fillings are typically made of tooth-colored composite resin placed in a cavity and molded into a shape that conforms with the natural shape of the tooth at the time of treatment. Traditional dental fillings are intended to fill much smaller dental caries or cavities than inlays and onlays. 

Why You Might Need an Inlay or Onlay 

Treatment with an inlay or onlay might be appropriate in the following circumstances:

  • Broken or fractured tooth
  • Decayed tooth
  • Fractured or compromised dental filling
  • Large dental filling
  • Cosmetic enhancement

The Process of Getting an Inlay or Onlay

The process of getting an inlay or onlay typically requires two dental appointments. 

During the first appointment, we remove any signs of decay or compromised tissues to prepare the tooth for restoration with an inlay or onlay. Once the tooth is prepared, we take detailed impressions of your teeth and submit these to the dental lab for the creation of your dental restoration. Before you leave your first appointment, we place a temporary filling on your tooth to ensure it is protected while your permanent restoration is manufactured. 

Once your permanent restoration is ready, we have you come in for your second appointment when we remove the temporary filling and cement the inlay or onlay into place. We can then have you bite down and make any necessary adjustments to ensure a comfortable fit. 

Both preparing the tooth and placing the inlay or onlay are performed after administering a local anesthetic to ensure you have a comfortable and pain-free treatment experience. 

How To Take Care of Your Inlay or Onlay

To care for your inlay or onlay, continue your normal oral hygiene routine of brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist for regular exams and professional cleanings. Additionally, we recommend avoiding highly pigmented foods and drinks in addition to chewing on hard objects or foods. Avoid all tobacco products to prevent staining. 

Additionally, we recommend wearing a protective mouthguard during athletic activities and a nightguard if you have been diagnosed with sleep bruxism. 

Restorative Dentistry With Our Dentists in Glen Ellyn

At Glen Ellyn Dentistry, we provide patients with comprehensive dental care, including an expansive list of general, restorative, and cosmetic treatments, including inlays and onlays. To learn more about the benefits of these restorative treatments or to request an appointment with Dr. Charise Petrelli or Dr. Cathy Nguyen, we welcome you to contact our office at 630-942-0727 today.

Get Started Today!

We look forward to welcoming new patients into our office and seeing our existing patients again. To request an appointment, we welcome you to contact our office at 630-942-0727 or complete the appointment request form on our website.

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