Dental Inlay & Onlay

What is a dental inlay and onlay?

Dental inlays and onlays are restorations used to repair rear teeth that have a mild to moderate amount of tooth decay. They can also be used to restore teeth that are cracked or fractured if the damage is not severe enough to require a dental crown.

A dental inlay or onlay is bigger than a filling and smaller than a crown. It is bonded or cemented into place. An inlay is similar to a filling, but it lies within the cusps (bumps) on the chewing surface of your tooth. An onlay is larger than an inlay. It replaces one or more decayed cusps.

Inlays or onlays can be made of gold, composite resin (plastic) or ceramics. They can last for 10 years or longer.


The tooth and surrounding area will be numbed with local anesthesia. Some people also may be given nitrous oxide or another type of sedation.