Good oral health is an essential thing if a person wants to enjoy better overall health throughout their life. The good thing is that it is possible to maintain good oral hygiene at home. It is possible to achieve this by getting regular dental checkups, keeping teeth clean, and on-time diagnosis and treatment of dental emergencies and other problems. The problem is that not everyone gets to enjoy good oral health throughout their life. Some people experience dental issues, requiring special dental procedures such as Inlays and Onlays.

If you are in Hawthorne, Ganji Dental will be your best choice for quality diagnosis and treatment. We provide full dental services for individuals and local families at an affordable rate. With our high skills and experience, we will ensure that you get back your smile and teeth functionality.

Overview of Dental Inlays and Onlays

If proper dental care is not maintained, a person is likely to get tooth decay, which is known as the softening of a person's tooth enamel. Tooth decay is the general damage of the structure of a person's tooth and is caused by acids that form when a plaque bacteria breaks down sugar in the person's mouth. If left untreated, the acid will cause loss of minerals from the tooth enamel, which eventually causes a cavity. A cavity is a resulting hole in a tooth whose enamel has been eaten away by acid. If not treated, these holes will grow over time and might even destroy the entire tooth.

When you go to a dentist with a dental cavity, he/she will recommend several types of treatments, depending on the exact location of the affected tooth and the amount of damage the tooth has experienced. Among these treatments are Inlays and onlays. They are a type of indirect dental restoration of a tooth that has been affected by a dental cavity. What this means is that dentists create them outside the patient's mouth as one piece, which should fit the shape and size of the dental cavity. Once they are ready, dentists will cement these restorations in position. Indirect dental restoration is a substitute to direct dental restoration made from amalgam, composure, and glass ionomer, which dentists build within the patient's mouth.

All types of dental restorations and dental fillings serve the same purpose, which is that of restoring the functioning, integrity as well as the morphology of a missing or damaged tooth. Onlays and Inlays are generally useful on molars and premolars that have experienced excess damage to the point that they are unable to sustain a necessary dental filling. Again, the damage may not be enough to support a dental crown. The main difference between the two is in the amount of tooth damage and the part of the tooth they will be required to cover.

Inlays will, for instance, include the fissures and pits of teeth. It mainly encompasses the chewing part of the tooth, between the dental cusps. Onlays, on the other hand, will involve the covering of one or many dental cusps. If the damage on the tooth is to the point that all its cusps and entire surface will require coating, then your dentist will recommend a dental crown.

Benefits of Dental Inlays and Onlays

If you have a tooth that has suffered severe decay, infection, or damage, you need to choose the right restorative dental treatment. As mentioned above, there are several options available, including fillings, Inlays, onlays, and dental crowns. As far as dental restoration is concerned, onlays and Inlays have several benefits over other alternatives. Some of these benefits include:

With dental Inlays and onlays, the damaged tooth received additional strength and support. It is all that the tooth needs to withstand more pressure from chewing. With its durability and support heightened, there will be no need to have it replaced.

Dental Inlays and onlays are generally more long-lasting than fillings. The patient only needs to take proper care of the restorations to ensure that the damaged tooth is functioning correctly for a much more extended period.

When preparing for a dental Inlays or onlays, the dentist only removes the affected part of the enable. It means that less enamel is lost, and hence, the dentist can preserve more of the patient's natural tooth.

The design for dental Inlays and onlays is mainly to blend with the patient's natural teeth. No one must know that you have had a restorative dental procedure as the Inlays or Onlays will match with both the shade and color of your natural teeth.

The process of getting an Inlays or onlays is not complicated. It means that a patient can have either of them completed in just one appointment. It saves the patient time and money of having to go back to the dentist's office to have the procedure completed.

If you have had a dental filling that failed to restore your damaged tooth, a dental Inlay or On-lay can be used to fix that. It is not the end of treatment if a dental filling does not work on your tooth. It means that you have a chance to restore your tooth, however, damaged it might be.

Inlays Vs. Direct Fillings

Inlays and fillings are interchangeably used in theory, but dental Inlays are mainly applicable to much larger cavities. Both of these restorative dental procedures involve the removal of an existing cavity by the use of a drill, then filling the space. The amount of filling done in the created area is what makes the most significant difference between Inlays and fillings.

When it comes to fillings, a composite or amalgam material is used in filling the space. It is a rapid process that only requires one visit to the dentist's office. With Inlays, on the other hand, the area is usually filled up with one solid piece that has already been pre-created in a dental lab, through Inlays can also be made in the dental office. Unlike fillings, Inlays are usually made of ceramic or gold materials. They must also be shaped and sized to fit perfectly in space. It prevents food and bacteria from entering the areas left uncovered, which might cause further decay.

Another difference is that dental Inlays are placed in an upside way, unlike dental fillings. It keeps them in place and ensures that they are not failing or forming a gap between the surrounding tooth structure and the filling.

Inlays are reliable, and so, they give the tooth a more robust and durable surface that will make it easy for the patient to chew. It makes Inlays more reliable in the long-term when compared to dental fillings

However, Inlays are more costly than dental fillings. They are also very rare and may not be readily available to dental patients.

Onlays Vs. Dental Crowns

Both onlays and dental crowns are the major tooth restorations available today. They are both reserved for areas that have larger decays, where Inlays and fillings will not work because of the quantity of tooth structure the dentist must remove before the restoration. However, the two are different and are also different from Inlays and fillings.

An on-lay will, for instance, cover the cusp of an affected tooth while an Inlay will only fill the area between two cusps. The dentist will drill the cavity of the affected tooth, and then an already fabricated on-lay that can fit the exact shape and size of the space will be placed on the hole created by the drilling.

When compared to a dental crown, onlays do not work the same way, since the design of dental crowns is to cover the full biting area of the affected tooth and the structure above the affected tooth's gum line. Again, a dental on-lay is not an aggressive form of dental restoration, since the dentist only needs to remove a small portion of the damaged tooth for the replacement.

However, onlays and dental crowns are similar in some way, such as the cost; the costs of both restoration procedures are almost the same, though sometimes onlays could be a little cheaper than dental crowns. For that reason, a lot of patients will prefer to have an on-lay in place of a dental crown. Not many dental offices offer dental onlays, though, and its effectiveness relies mainly on the skill and expertise of the dentist. Without proper skills, a patient may end up with a wrongly-placed on-lay that will not serve any purpose.

Conditions that Make Dental Onlays and Inlays Not Advisable

Even though dental 0n-lays and Inlays are offering more benefits than other dental installations, there are times they are not advisable. Some of these instances include:

In cases where good oral hygiene is not guaranteed:

The most dangerous thing for Dental Inlays and onlays are plaques plus active caries. For that reason, it is imperative for anyone that is considering having onlays or Inlays to maintain the best oral hygiene. Good oral health must be maintained even before the restoration is done. Failing to manage these caries is a risk to the patient, and could cause caries to recur. It means that this increases the chances for the patient to develop fresh caries even after receiving the restorations. If the affected tooth is already at risk of new caries, going ahead with the repair doesn't alter this risk. New threats will grow around the Inlays or onlays, rendering the repair ineffective.

In cases where a patient has parafunctional habits

Onlays and Inlays will not be fit for a person who has such parafunctional habits as clenching or grinding their teeth, and anything that will exert massive forces on the restorations. Parafunctional practices are the unusual functioning of dental structures and their associated muscles. They are likely to cause significant failure even on the best-designed and placed 0n-lays or Inlays restoration. Such habits, as well as substantial occlusal forces, affect mainly Inlays and onlays made out of porcelain materials. If you want to enjoy quality restorations for a long time, it is vital to avoid such forces as well as parafunctional habits.

For patients under the age of 16

There are specific dental procedures that dentists recommended for minors, especially those below the age of 16. First of all, some teeth for the 16-year olds are usually not fully developed. Such a restoration procedure may affect the way the tooth emerges after that. Again, young children are generally not able to deal with specific invasive dental treatments. They are also not able to withstand lengthy procedures. It is advisable to hold on until the right time for them to undergo an indirect restoration.

For patients who are unable to bear dental impressions

Dental impressions are negative imprints on the soft and hard tissues in the mouth, through which positive reproductions can be formed. Dental impressions are necessary during indirect restorations as they help ensure that a new repair will align with the patient's current bite. There are patients who, however, are not able to withstand a conventional impression. The good thing is that there are digital imprint systems these days, such as Lava Chairside, which are helping such patients receive the most necessary treatment without experiencing the discomfort. The problem is that most of these digital systems may not be readily available in most dental offices today.

How to Prepare for a Dental Inlay and On-lay

The general preparation for onlays and Inlays will be the same as all other indirect restorations. A dentist's main aim, in this case, will be to ensure that the damaged tooth is well-prepared, and more of the natural tooth is preserved, unlike what happens during dental crown restorations. Your dentist will also be sure to protect the right amount of your natural tooth from further damage. The opposite cavity walls will also be prepared in a way to prevent undercuts. It ensures that the dentist retains more from the shape of the cavity, where the restoration will be placed.

For onlays and Inlays, preparations for an all-ceramic restoration will be aimed at developing cavity shapes that are slightly over-shaped, since much of the retention will be coming from the reinforcement lute. But, for restorations that will be done using a gold material, the cavity form must be created in such a way that it has parallel walls since most of the retention will come from the shape of the cavity.

Once the cavity outline has been achieved, your dentist will proceed to prepare the cementation. This entire procedure is ordinarily carried out in two appointments; the first dental visit will be to prepare the damaged tooth for the restoration, and the second one will be the cementation process. After the preparation of the damaged tooth, your dentist will take the wash impression and putty to the dental lab for the fabrication of an indirect restoration. You could get a temporary restoration on your first dental visit, made of such materials as ProTemp. It helps protect the already prepared tooth against loss of strength, sensitivity, as well as bacterial contamination. It also prevents an over- flaring of the already prepared tooth as well as maintains its dental look for the period before the actual restoration is placed.

Popular Fabricating Methods for Dental Onlays and Inlays

Several fabricating methods can be used for onlays and Inlays, all dependent on the material used for restoration. The most common ones are:

CAD or Computer-Aided Design/ CAM or Computer-Aided Manufacture

It is a technique that helps in the creation of indirect dental restorations, including onlays, Inlays, dental crowns, and bridges. With this method, it is likely for the patient to get an indirect restoration placed and cemented on their first dental visit. It all starts with taking an oral scan of the patient's already prepared tooth to produce 3D impressions. These impressions are then sent to a chosen computer program, where the restoration is designed. Once the program receives confirmation, it immediately starts a milling process to create an end-product.

The Lost Wax Fabrication Technique

In this fabrication method, the wax is used to create a ceramic or cast-metal indirect restoration. A dentist can perform this either directly or indirectly. Indirectly, the wax is usually packed into the already prepared tooth and adapted to take the form of the cavity. The good thing about this technique is that Inlays wax is generally very brittle. It means that it can break once it is removed from the cavity's undercut, even when in the mouth. It helps the dentist to recognize the existence of undercuts after placement, which can easily be removed for a smooth finish.

Direct Restoration Technique

In this fabrication method, the impression of an already prepared tooth is not needed. In its place, the prepared tooth is covered with a coat of a material that separates, such as glycerin. After that, a composite dental restoration is then created directly on the tooth, allowing it to assume the form of the cavity. The dentist then gives the repair time to cure lightly in the tooth. He/she then removes it from the cavity for further curing. Before the already-cured restoration is placed back in the cavity, the separating material will have to be removed first. It allows the tooth to bond well with the restoration.

It is the best fabrication method to use in cases where composite material is chosen as a restorative material.

Common Materials Used for Dental Onlays and Inlays

For dental patients who would choose Inlays and onlays for their damaged teeth, there are several materials to choose from, depending on your preference, what is available in your dentist's office, and also the nature of your cavity. The most common ones include:


It is among the most preferred restorative material for most Inlays and onlays restorations. However, its popularity is decreasing as the days go by. It is because of the introduction of more appealing restorative materials in color as well as in the way they blend with the patients' natural teeth. However, gold still has the upper hand in some cases because of its many advantages, such as its flexibility and strength.

These make it the best to withstand any forces exerted upon the restored tooth. For that reason, gold could be the best material to use in thinner sections, for instance, where less tooth tissue is required for removal during the preparation stage. Gold material will give the affected tooth the same amount of strength it enjoyed as a natural tooth. The material is also ideal for patients who are not troubled by aesthetics.  It will also work if the restoration is required on a posterior tooth.


Ceramic is a restorative material that has been used in the dental industry for decades. Most people prefer it because of its aesthetically appealing color, which is better when compared to gold material. However, ceramic restorations require metal reinforcements for them to remain durable and long-lasting.  It is because the conventional ceramic material has a higher risk for fracturing.


Resin composites are also quite popular in the dental industry as restorative materials. The good thing is that they come in various compositions to fit the size and content of the filler particles. They are also aesthetically appealing and come in different shades. They, however, require a more profound curing method that utilizes pressure, heat, and intense light. They also need more time and skills.


These restorative materials are used to take advantage of the aesthetic benefit of the all-ceramic restoration, as well as the improved durability and strength that comes with the metal material. However, repairs done by metal-ceramic elements are not as reliable as those of all-ceramic material.

Find a Hawthorne Dental Office Near Me

If you have a tooth that has been damaged by a cavity, Inlays and Onlays are some of the best restorative methods for your problem that we offer at Ganji Dental. These are aimed at improving your smile and confidence, as well as preventing further decay and damage to your tooth. For more information and advice on the best option to go for, call us at 310-643-8045 if you are in Hawthorne, CA.