Fillings and crowns are not the only options dentists rely on to repair damaged or decayed teeth, and dental inlays and onlays may be offered for patients. These restorations are made from either gold, porcelain or composite materials for restorative purposes. 

Tooth Damage Solutions

When a tooth is extensively damaged but does not qualify for a crown, your dentist may offer dental inlays or onlays to save a healthy portion of the injured tooth and provide patients with strength and stability for normal chewing. A dental inlay will be placed in the center of the tooth, whereas a dental onlay will be placed on the inside and outer areas of the tooth. Both are considered less aggressive treatment options compared to dental crowns and tend to cost less. 

The procedure itself is considered safe, and a dentist may recommend this treatment in the following situations:

  • The patient has chipped or cracked teeth that cannot be repaired by dental fillings, but the tooth does not require extensive procedures for the repair. 
  • The patient’s teeth have moderate to severe decay, in which case a dental inlay or onlay may safeguard the functionality of the tooth. 

A local anesthetic will be injected into your gums to numb the pain during the procedure, and the dentist will use a drill to remove the damaged portion of your tooth. Some parts of your tooth may also be filed down to prepare it to stick to the materials of the inlay or onlay. Your dentist will take an impression of your tooth to create a customized inlay or onlay, and this step will help ensure it fits correctly. 

Placement for Restorative Treatment

If the dentist has the equipment to make these restorations in the dental office, they can prepare them and place them during the same appointment. If they do not have the necessary equipment, they will send the impressions to a dental lab and will provide you with a temporary placement on your teeth until the permanent one is ready. 

You may feel a few pinches when the dentist administers the local anesthesia, and some patients may feel some pressure as the dentist prepares the tooth to receive the restorations. Some discomfort is normal, but the procedure should not be painful. 

If you care for your dental inlay or onlay properly, they can last anywhere from 10 to 30 years. You must continue to brush and floss regularly, and you must visit your dentist every six months for checkups and professional cleanings. 


Are you looking for restorative dentistry options for damaged or decayed teeth? Tavistock Family Dentistry can discuss dental inlays and onlays in more detail to determine whether or not this option is right for your smile. If you are looking for a dentist near you in Tavistock or need an emergency dentist in the area, you can contact our clinic at any time to schedule an appointment!

Call (519) 512-9961 or Book Your Dental Appointment online today!