Inlays and Onlays

Teeth dentistry restoration with porcelain sealant in cavity

Inlays and onlays, also known as indirect fillings, are two types of dental restorations that are used to restore decayed teeth when a tooth-colored filling is not enough. They are called indirect fillings because they are fabricated in a dental lab out of either zirconia or porcelain before being cemented into the mouth. The main difference between inlays and onlays is that inlays are fabricated to fit over the center of the tooth, while onlays are fabricated to fit over one or more cusps of a tooth. As such, inlays are generally used to restore teeth that have a smaller amount of damage, while onlays can be used to restore teeth that have more extensive damage.

SmileMcLean Dentistry offers inlays and onlays made from porcelain or zirconia:

Porcelain Inlays/Onlays

  • Very natural appearance
  • Ideal for use in front of the mouth
  • Biocompatible

Zirconia Inlays/Onlays

  • Strength comparable to metal restorations
  • Has a white appearance that can be blended with the tooth structure
  • Biocompatible


Candidates for inlays or onlays are individuals who have a decayed area of the tooth that cannot effectively be restored using a tooth-colored filling, however is not enough to warrant the placement of a dental crown. Inlays are generally used when the decay is only on the chewing surface of the tooth, while an onlay may be recommended in cases where the decay has affected on or more of the tooth’s points.

The Procedure:

The placement of an inlay or onlay generally requires two appointments. The first appointment is used to prepare the tooth surface and take impressions of the teeth that are sent to a dental lab. To prepare the tooth, Dr. Farahi will remove any decayed tissue. He will then place a temporary restoration to protect the tooth until the permanent restoration has been completed. At the second appointment, the inlay or onlay is cemented into place.

If you are considering an inlay or onlay, schedule a consultation with Dr. Farahi at SmileMcLean Dentistry today. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.