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Our Naperville cosmetic dentist is highly experienced in the different treatment options for tooth decay. Because this extremely common issue can manifest in different levels of severity, one strategy may more effectively meet your needs than another. For instance, if the damage to your tooth is too extensive for a simple filling but not severe enough to warrant a full crown, or if there is a lot of tooth structure missing, Dr. Newkirk may be able to use inlays and onlays to restore the tooth.

What Are Inlays And Onlays?

Inlays and onlays are restorations that are used to repair damaged or decayed teeth. Often considered a “middle ground” between dental crowns and fillings, professionally crafted inlays and onlays can provide a sturdy, natural-looking solution for small to moderately sized cavities and support a weakened or vulnerable tooth.

An inlay sits inside the tooth and is very similar to a filling, while an onlay covers most or all of the chewing surface (or “cusp”) of the tooth.* Inlays and onlays differ from ordinary fillings in that they are made in a dental laboratory, which means dentists and dental technicians have more control over the shape of the filling. As such, inlays and onlays are highly customizable and are crafted to fit precisely into the prepared cavity and cover damaged areas.

These restorations can be made out of cast gold or fired porcelain, which are both extremely durable materials; that said, in recent years, porcelain has become more popular and gold is typically not used as frequently.

What Are the Benefits of Inlays and Onlays?

When crafted and placed by experienced dental professionals, inlays and onlays can offer benefits such as:

With these potential advantages in mind, it is important to note that the choice between dental treatments depends on individual factors such as the extent of tooth decay, the location of the damage, and Dr. Newkirk’s recommendations based on your specific dental needs.

Inlays and Onlays vs. Crowns

While inlays and onlays, particularly the latter, bear some similarities to dental crowns, there are a few major differences between these options. For one, while an onlay resembles a dental crown in that it is placed over the tooth, it only covers its weakened or broken parts; a dental crown covers all of the tooth. Additionally, preparing a tooth for a crown involves significant removal of the natural tooth structure. Moreover, while dental crowns can provide more comprehensive protection and are used for more severely damaged teeth, onlays are typically best suited for repairing more centralized areas of damage. 

Like every treatment offered at our practice, your care will be personalized around your unique case. Dr. Newkirk will thoroughly examine your oral health before determining the most appropriate option for you.

What Does the Procedure for Inlays and Onlays Involve?

In most cases, inlays and onlays require two appointments. During the first appointment, the tooth is prepared, an impression is taken, and a temporary filling is placed. The impression is sent to a dental laboratory technician, who fabricates the restoration. At the second appointment, Dr. Newkirk removes the temporary filling and then fits the onlay. If the fit is correct, he will then fuse the inlay or onlay to the tooth via dental bonding, making sure it fits precisely and blends with your natural teeth. 

What Does Inlay and Onlay Recovery Entail?

Recovery after getting inlays and onlays is typically straightforward and relatively quick. You may experience soreness and/or sensitivity to very hot or cold foods, but these effects are usually temporary and should improve within a few days to a week. Over-the-counter pain medications can often mitigate any discomfort.

One of the many benefits of inlays and onlays is their tendency to last for many years – even decades – at a time. Expect this type of restoration to last from 10 to 30 years, provided you maintain good oral hygiene and regularly attend your exams and cleanings.

How Much Do Inlays and Onlays Cost?

At our practice, pricing for inlays and onlays may be influenced by:

Please do not hesitate to speak to a member of our team about the payment process of your care. For your convenience, we accept all major credit cards and work with most insurances.

“I have been going to Dr Newkirk along with my family for over 10 years. He has fixed everything from bite shifting in my jaw to crowns to inlays and onlays to prosthetic tooth replacement.”


If you would like to learn more about inlays and onlays, feel free to contact us today.

Medical References*

Colgate: When a Dental Inlay Is Your Best Option

Healthline: Onlay vs. Crown