Inlays, Onlays & Crowns

When more than half of the tooth’s biting surface is damaged, a dentist will often use an inlay, onlay, or a crown.

What are inlays,  onlays, or Crowns?

Inlays, onlays, and crowns can be made of porcelain, gold, or composite resin. These are bonded to the damaged area of the tooth. In most cases, they are made from a tooth-colored porcelain material and used to repair tooth damage from decay or trauma. 

  • Crown– A crown  is a restoration that fully covers and extends around all of the sides of the tooth when maximum reinforcement or reconstruction  of the tooth is required.
  • Onlay– an onlay is a restoration, similar to the crown  extending out over one or more of the cusps of the tooth. Cusp tips that are structurally sound and do not require reinforcement are left in tact to preserve tooth structure. 
  • Inlay–   An inlay is used when the  cusp tips of the tooth are  structurally sound but the tooth needs a stronger reinforced material to rebuild lost tooth structure. 
  • Filling- a filling is a restoration similar to caulk or a sealant that is suitable for a tooth that has minimal damage or decay. Fillings are not designed to reinforce or rebuild significant tooth structure. 
Inlays, Onlays & Crowns

Traditionally, gold has been the material of choice for inlays and onlays. In recent years, however, porcelain has become increasingly popular due to its strength and color, which can potentially match the natural color of your teeth.

Want To Learn More About Inlays And Onlays?

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How are inlays and onlays applied?

Inlays and onlays require a single appointment to complete the procedure. During the visit, the filling is replaced or the damaged or decaying area of the tooth is removed, and the tooth is prepared for the restoration. To ensure proper fit and bite, a digital impression of the tooth is taken and the restoration is designed and custom fabricated in our office with our E4D machine.


Dr. Mendelsohn, Dr. Previti or Dr. Elsayed will then make sure that the inlay or onlay fits correctly. If the fit is satisfactory, the inlay or onlay will be bonded to the tooth with a strong resin and polished to a smooth finish.

Considerations for inlays and onlays

Traditional fillings can reduce the strength of a natural tooth by up to 50 percent. As an alternative, inlays and onlays, which are bonded directly onto the tooth using special high-strength resins, can actually increase the strength of a tooth by up to 75 percent. As a result, they can last from 10 to 30 years. In some cases, where the damage to the tooth is not extensive enough to merit an entire crown, onlays can provide a very good alternative.