Inlays and Onlays: A Conservative Restoration Choice

Inlays and onlays offer an effective solution for patients who have mild to moderate tooth decay in their back teeth. They are also used to restore cracked teeth if the damage is not extensive enough to require dental crownsDr. Robert F. Berger may recommend either an inlay or onlay to help restore the health and aesthetics of your teeth. To learn more about the benefits and whether you are a candidate for inlays and onlays, schedule an appointment today at our Columbia and Elgin, SC-area dental practice.

Understanding Inlays and Onlays

Inlays and onlays are fabricated in a dental laboratory using porcelain, composite resin, or gold. They can be used on back teeth that have mild to moderate tooth decay or a failed filling. They can also address cracked or fractured teeth, if the damage is not so severe that a full crown is necessary. Patients often choose these restorations to replace their metal fillings for cosmetic reasons.

Inlays: Inlays are recommended for patients who have decay or damage only within the cusps (top surfaces) of a tooth. Inlays may also replace fillings that have sustained damage or deterioration due to normal wear and tear.

Onlays: Onlays are recommended for patients who have tooth decay that goes beyond one or more cusps. An onlay may even extend along the side of a tooth.

Are They Right for Me?

If you have a molar with mild to moderate decay, you will likely make a good candidate for an inlay or onlay. Inlays and onlays are superb alternatives to large dental fillings or full crowns. During your exam and consultation, Dr. Berger will take time to explain his findings and treatment options, so that you can feel informed when making decisions about your dental care. He encourages you to ask questions at this time. After your exam and discussion, Dr. Berger may recommend an inlay or onlay to repair your tooth. 

Overview of the Procedure

If you are diagnosed with tooth decay or a tooth fracture during your dental exam, Dr. Berger will suggest treatment with the most conservative, yet durable restoration. Often, his suggestion is placing an inlay or onlay. In general, two appointments are needed for the procedure. During the first visit, Dr. Berger will remove decay from the affected tooth and prepare it for the restoration.

Onlays are considered a conservative treatment method since less natural, healthy tissue is removed during tooth preparation, compared to the procedure for crowns.

Next, he will take an impression of the tooth and opposing teeth. Dr. Berger will then place a temporary inlay or onlay over the tooth. The impression will be sent to our partner lab, where a technician will fabricate your inlay or onlay, by following Dr. Berger’s instructions and design.

During your second appointment, Dr. Berger will remove the temporary inlay or onlay. Next, he will place the permanent restoration, using a strong dental bonding material. After confirming that the inlay or onlay is securely attached, Dr. Berger will finish by sculpting the tooth to ensure an optimal bite. Onlays are considered a conservative treatment method since less natural, healthy tissue is removed during tooth preparation, compared to the procedure for dental crowns

Benefits of Inlays and Onlays

Inlays and onlays are virtually invisible when made with tooth-colored material. This makes them an aesthetically-pleasing treatment method. Other benefits of inlays and onlays include:

  • Will not fracture or weaken teeth, like metal fillings
  • Minimal tooth reduction during preparation
  • Strengthens the tooth
  • Highly durable, may last for decades

Schedule Your Consultation

Dr. Berger and his team want to thoroughly understand your oral health so that you will always have the power to maintain a strong, attractive smile. To learn whether dental inlays or onlays are the recommended procedure for your care, schedule an appointment today.

Our Location

Find us on the map

Hours of Operation

Our Regular Schedule


8:00 am-5:00 pm


8:00 am-5:00 pm


8:00 am-5:00 pm


8:00 am-5:00 pm