Dental Inlays
Washington DC & Bethesda – Chevy Chase

When more than half of the tooth’s biting surface is damaged, Dr. Marlin in his Washington DC dental office will often use a dental inlay.

What are inlays and onlays?

Dental inlays and onlays are natural looking restorations that are precision made in the dental laboratory. An inlay fits within the tooth and an onlay has one or more cusp tips that are replaced by the restoration. They are fabricated from composite resin or porcelain.

Teeth Restored with Tooth Colored Inlays

Before dental inlays
After teeth are restored with tooth-colored dental inlays

Dental inlays/onlays can be made of porcelain, gold, or composite resin. These restorations are bonded to the damaged area of the tooth. An inlay (which is similar to a filling) is used inside the cusp tips of the tooth. An onlay is a more substantial reconstruction (similar to the inlay), but extending out over one or more of the cusps of the tooth.

In the past, gold has been the material of choice for inlays/onlays. In recent years, however, porcelain has become increasingly popular due to its strength and color which can potentially match the natural color of your teeth.

Teeth Rebuilt with Dental Onlays


Procedure for Dental Inlays/Onlays

Inlays/onlays require two appointments to complete. During the first visit to Dr. Marlin in his Washington DC dental office, the filling being replaced or the damaged or decaying area of the tooth is removed and the tooth is prepared for the inlay or onlay. An impression of the tooth is made and sent to our in-house lab for fabrication. Dr. Marlin will then insert a temporary filling in the tooth and a subsequent appointment will be scheduled.

At the second appointment, the temporary sealant is removed. Dr. Marlin will then make sure that the inlay/onlay fits correctly. It will then be bonded to the tooth with a strong resin and polished to a smooth finish.

Considerations for Dental Onlays/Inlays

Traditional fillings can reduce the strength of a natural tooth by up to 50 percent. As an alternative, dental inlays/onlays that are bonded directly onto the tooth using special high-strength resins, can actually increase the strength of a tooth by up to 75 percent. In some cases, where the damage to the tooth is not extensive enough to merit an entire dental crown, onlays can provide a very good alternative. Many teeth can not support inlays or onlays and must be restored with dental crowns.