Inlays and Onlays

There may be times when a dental crown is too large to cover up a tooth damaged by decay and a filling is too small. For such cases, many dentists will use dental inlays and onlays if they need something of just the perfect size to cover those gaps in your teeth. The treatment is larger than fillings but not as noticeable as crowns, which may necessitate some reshaping of your tooth.

What are Inlays and Onlays?

Dental inlays and onlays are indirect dental restorations. This means these restorations are created in a laboratory and not directly in the mouth.

A dental inlay is a solid, custom-made piece of material. The dentist will cast it into shape with gold or mill it into shape with porcelain — depending on the size and depth of the cavity. An inlay is a tooth-shaped piece of material, which the dentist will mould to fit into the grooves of your tooth. It does not extend past the tooth’s cusps.

Dental onlays, like inlays, are made of a solid, custom-made material. However, they are larger than inlays but smaller than dental crowns. A dentist will use an onlay to fill larger cavities that extend over a tooth’s cusps.

Benefits of Dental Inlays and Onlays

The significant benefit of having inlays or onlays is that you do not have to get an entire dental crown when it is not necessary or receive an insufficient dental filling. Here are more benefits of these indirect dental restorations:

  • Higher resistance to fractures and damage as compared to traditional cavity fillings
  • Easily matches the natural aesthetic of the tooth
  • Customized fit for the patient’s tooth structure and shape
  • Resistant to stains
  • Last up to 30 years (depending on a person’s risk of cavity and fracture)

Materials Used for Inlays/Onlays

Dentists use gold, ceramic (porcelain), or composite resin for making dental inlays and onlays. Each material has its advantages and limitations, as well as a difference in cost. Your dentist will be able to guide you on what material to choose for maximum benefit.


Typically, inlays cost from $250 to $1,500, and inlays cost between $350 and $1,500. However, the actual cost you will incur depends on several factors. These include the dentist you visit and at what location, the location of the affected tooth in your mouth, the material used, and the size of the inlay or onlay.

Meanwhile, insurance companies cover dental inlays and onlays under either basic or major service categories. You can contact your insurance company to learn about their coverage policy.

Dr. Nick Addario’s Dental Care in Chula Vista

We offer affordable and high-quality dental inlays and onlays in Chula Vista. Our dental experts and staff will ensure that you have a comfortable and hygienic experience at each of your dental visits. To learn more about Dr. Nick Addario’s cosmetic dentistry services in Chula Vista or book your appointment, call us or visit our dental office today.

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