Inlays and Onlays

The treating dentist can use an inlay or an onlay, depending on how much of the tooth needs to be covered.

There are a lot of dental procedures that can be done to help restore your mouth to an ideal scenario. As a patient, keeping track of these procedures can prove difficult. We know! Our dentists go to school for several years to fully understand them. That is why you will find that our office works extremely hard to provide clear explanations and education about your dental options. Two of the services that we get a lot of questions about are inlays and onlays.

What are Inlays and Onlays?

Let’s start out by describing what inlays and onlays are. Some of the reason that there is a lot of confusion surrounding inlays and onlays is because they are dental services that are very similar to two other dental services that patients are more familiar with; dental crowns and fillings. You can think of inlays and onlays as a service that is a combination of a crown and a filling.

Fillings are a good option for taking care of small amounts of decay in the mouth and crowns are a good options for taking care of large amounts of decay in the mouth. The truth of the matter is that there is often an in-between area. When the situation is too big, or requires more strength than a filling can offer, but is not bad enough to need a crown, the treating dentist can use an inlay or an onlay, depending on how much of the tooth needs to be covered. To help simplify things, you can think of an inlay or an onlay as a partial crown.

What Materials are Inlays and Onlays Made From?

Much like crowns, inlays and onlays can be made from a variety of different materials. The material chosen depends on what the dentist feels is best for the location of the inlay or onlay, and personal preference. Sometimes patients just want gold, and that is their decision. We typically recommend white materials to match the color of your teeth for the most natural look, but again, you can make the choice as long as the material will work for that location.

How Does the Process Work?

The process of having an inlay and an onlay restoration put on a tooth is similar to the process of getting a crown. The first step is removing the decay. Once the decay is gone, you are going to be missing part of your tooth. One of our Salt Lake City dentists will then take an impression of your tooth which will give them the proper dimensions the dentist needs to make your inlay or onlay fit the tooth. You will be fitted with a temporary restoration while the lab is creating the actual inlay or onlay out of the chosen material. Once the lab is finished (typically 1-2 weeks), you will come back into our office and the dentist will place the permanent restoration.

How Long Do Inlays and Onlays Last?

The durability of a restoration can never be guaranteed because there are so many variables. Everyone’s mouths are different, and people have different oral health habits. Having said that, inlays and onlays are extremely durable. If they are properly cared for and the surrounding tooth stays healthy, they can often last for up to 30 years.

How Do Salt Lake City Patients Know if They Need an Inlay or Onlay?

An untrained eye would be hard pressed to know if they needed an inlay or an onlay. In reality, only a trusted dentist can tell you for certain. Because they are a step in-between a filling and a crown, the symptoms that you might have will be the regular decay symptoms. These types of issues are often difficult to notice on your own because unless decay makes it deep into the tooth, you will often not have any pain associated with the decay.

This is why we always encourage our patients to make regular visits to have their teeth cleaned and examined by their dental hygienist and dentist. Catching decay early is the best way to ensure that you can keep as many of your beautiful teeth as possible.

If you have any questions, or if you are in need of a quality dentist in Salt Lake City, call us today at (801) 486-3887, or learn more about our office here.


Canyon Rim Dental

Dr. Sam Delahunty and the team at Canyon Rim Dental are proud to serve the community of Salt Lake City, UT, with modern, comprehensive dentistry. We offer a wide range of advanced treatments for patients of all ages. Dr. Delahunty's affiliations include: 

  • American Dental Association
  • Utah Dental Association
  • American Association of Endodontists
  • Pierre Fauchard Academy

You can request an appointment by filling out our online form, or by calling: (801) 486-3887.

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