Inlays and onlays

When a tooth has sustained too much damage to be restored with a direct dental filling, but the damage is not significant enough to require the full coverage of a crown, your dentist may recommend an inlay or onlay.

Inlays and onlays are both forms of indirect restoration (filling) in which a solid substance is fitted to a cavity in a tooth and cemented into place. What distinguishes an onlay from an inlay is that the onlay incorporates a replacement for a tooth cusp, covering the area where the missing cusp would be.

Types of inlays and onlays

Inlays and onlays can be made from a variety of strong restorative materials. Before embarking on this procedure, your dentist will discuss the various options with you and recommend the most appropriate material for your specific clinical situation.

Porcelain or ceramic

In recent years, porcelain and ceramic have grown more popular as materials for inlays and onlays due to their strength and colour, which mimics the look of natural teeth.

For information on the technology we use at Affinity Dental Sherwood Park to create ceramic inlays and onlays, please visit the Technology section of this site.


Valued for its durability, gold has long been a popular material for inlays and onlays.


Resin is a common option for patients who grind their teeth.

Getting inlays and onlays

The process of getting an inlay or onlay can be broken down into these general steps:


After the affected tooth has been prepared, a rubber-like material is used to take a molded impression of the tooth. This impression will be used to fabricate the inlay or onlay.


Your dentist places a temporary plastic cover over the affected tooth to protect it while the inlay or onlay is being fabricated in the lab.


At your next visit, the dentist removes the temporary cover and places the final inlay or onlay. Any minor adjustments needed to ensure optimal fit, function, and appearance are made, and the inlay or onlay is then cemented or bonded into place.

Contact Affinity Dental Sherwood Park today for more information about our inlay and onlay services.