Dental Onlays & Inlays

Restoring Damaged Teeth

Dental inlays and onlays repair rear teeth that have a mild to moderate amount of tooth infection, or restore teeth that are cracked or fractured—if the damage doesn’t require a dental crown. Like the one visit crown, the Inlay and Onlay can be done in a single visit!

The Difference Between Onlays & Inlays

inlay graphic


Inlays treat tooth decay in between the top projections or cusps of the tooth, or replace old fillings. The inlay is fastened within the center of the tooth.



Onlays treat tooth decay that reaches to one or more of the cusps. They help save more tooth structure because only a minor part of the tooth’s surface is removed.

Our San Antonio dentists will perform a comprehensive examination to determine whether you need an inlay or onlay.

Your dental health and appearance is important to us and we’re proud to offer this safe and effective treatment option.

More Inlay & Onlay Information

Inlays and Onlays Procedure

During your visit, the dentist takes out the decayed tooth area. The tooth that remains is shaped to ensure that the inlay or onlay will conform to the tooth. The dentist will make a mold of the tooth, and the patient’s bite. A temporary inlay or onlay is placed over the tooth.

Then the inlay or onlay is applied to the tooth. The inlay or onlay material ranges from porcelain to composite resin to gold. After it is positioned, the dentist will permanently bind the inlay or onlay to the tooth. Then it is polished.

Onlay vs Crown

The main advantages of inlays and onlays are they assist in healing tooth sensitivity, and protect teeth from loss. Crowns offer a good solution as well but don’t offer solutions for small infected areas. Other Onlay benefits include:

  • Better fitting and thus better than fillings at keeping out bacteria
  • Natural colored, which makes them invisible
  • Durable
  • Saves more of the tooth
  • Strengthens the tooth
Inlay & Onlay Maintenance

Inlays and Onlays can last for decades if the tooth the inlay or onlay is applied to is healthy enough. The life of the restoration also depends on how forceful one chews, choice of food, keeping regular dental visits, and brushing and flossing at home. Modern cosmetic dentistry and dental implants have come a long way but we still need to make sure and maintain our teeth when we can. Contact us with any questions about dental maintenance.


Of course insurance policies differ with each company, so patients must consult their company’s guidelines. Inlays and onlays could be classified in ‘basic’ or ‘major’ service by insurance companies.

To determine beforehand what the insurance will pay, patients can ask for an estimate of the cost and submit it to the company to see what rate they will be compensated.

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