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.

  • Inlay–   An Inlay is similar to a filling, is used inside the cusp tips of the tooth.
  • Onlay– A Crown is a more substantial reconstruction, similar to the inlay but extending out over one or more of the cusps of the tooth.
  • Crown– A crown  is a restoration that fully covers and wraps around the sides of the tooth when maximum reinforcement is required.

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.

onlay, crown, and inlay on teeth

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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 being 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 or Dr. Previti 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.