Are You a Candidate for Inlays or Onlays?

Modern dentistry has introduced numerous new innovations, in addition to many impressive variations of tried and true treatments. For instance, the traditional dental filling has been greatly improved upon with the advent of inlays, onlays, and tooth colored, “white” fillings. In the case of inlays and onlays, like so many other dental treatments, their widespread usage can be attributed to the evolution of medical grade porcelain.

At Smiles by Myles in Reston, inlays and onlays candidates are provided with a full education about the benefits and possible risks associated with these restorations so that they can make informed, confident decisions regarding their dental care. Are you a good candidate for an inlay or an onlay? The only way to know for sure is to meet with Dr. Wayne Myles at his cosmetic and general dentistry practice for a one-on-one, confidential consultation.


Inlays are porcelain restorations that are custom crafted to fit within the cusps (i.e., the indented top surfaces) of the teeth to replace missing tooth matter, usually after it has been removed due to decay or trauma. Like inlays, onlays are custom crafted from high-quality porcelain; however, they are designed to cover the entire top portion of the tooth, including the cusps.

For both inlays and onlays, Dr. Myles makes impressions of the teeth to be treated after any necessary work has been done to remove any damaged portions. These impressions are used to create porcelain restorations that fit precisely into or onto the teeth to rebuild their structure and make them appear whole again.


If you are a candidate for a conventional filling, you are almost certainly a candidate for an inlay or an onlay, as well. Also known as indirect fillings, inlays and onlays are meant to serve the same exact function of metal fillings – without, of course, the metal.

In terms of candidacy, the most important criterion is that there must be a sufficient amount of natural tooth structure remaining to support an inlay or onlay. This is important to any filling; if the remaining tooth structure is not strong enough to support the filling, it will remain susceptible to further damage, even if it is otherwise essentially healthy.

In cases in which inlays and onlays are not viable options due to more extensive damage having been done to a tooth, patients are generally better suited to dental crowns. Unlike inlays and onlays, dental crowns cover the entire visible surface area of a tooth, providing reinforcement for the remaining healthy tooth matter and protecting it from further harm.

For patients who are good candidates for inlays and onlays, proper expectations must be established. As with any type of filling, patients should be willing to avoid sticky and crunchy foods as much as possible and to commit themselves to good oral hygiene regimens. While inlays and onlays can last for a decade or longer with proper maintenance, they will eventually need to be replaced, as well.



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