Inlays, Onlays & Overlay

1. What is an inlay? An onlay?
Inlays and onlays are highly aesthetic alternatives to large-volume fillings. They are usually made of a monoblock of composite resin or ceramic and allow the exact shade and shape of the tooth to be reproduced. The monoblock fits perfectly into the cavity like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle.
The inlay is used when the cavity is inside the tooth walls and the onlay is used when the cavity encompasses one or more walls.

2. Why an inlay or an onlay?
An inlay or onlay is used for cases:

  • high-volume cavities,

  • of a lost filling,

  • of a fractured part of the tooth.

3. Advantages of composite inlays and onlays

  •     Permit use in live or non-living teeth,

  •     Avoid making a dental crown,

  •     Ensure a very good aesthetic,

  •     Provides optimum durability with high mechanical strength,

  •     Obtain a better quality seal than with a conventionall filling,

  •     Avoid a prosthesis requiring more extensive preparation of the tooth (crown),

  •     Avoid the risk of fracture as the inlays/onlays do not exert pressure on the remaining tooth walls.

4. Placement of an inlay / onlay

In general, the inlay/onlay installation requires two sessions.


  • Decay cleaning and preparation of the cavity where the inlay/onlay will be placed

  • dental impression

  • making of the inlay in the laboratory

Laying the inlay

  • Laying and gluing in the tooth cavity, ensuring a watertight seal

  • finishing and height adjustment by polishing

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