Dental Inlays and Onlays

Dental inlays and onlays are used to restore the strength of decayed or damaged teeth. They are typically recommended for rear teeth when the damage is too extensive for a dental filling, but not extensive enough to warrant a dental crown. Dr. Benjamin D. Ahlbrecht partners with a trusted dental laboratory to provide inlays and onlays for patients in the Indianapolis, IN, area. We can place inlays and onlays made out of metal, porcelain, or tooth-colored composite material, depending on your needs. 

inlays and onlays
An inlay replaces part of the chewing surface while an onlay replaces part of the chewing surface as well as one or more cusps.

The Difference between Inlays and Onlays

The main difference between an inlay and an onlay is the amount of tooth structure they restore. 

Inlays are used when damage or decay affects mainly the indented top surface between the cusps of teeth. Dr. Ahlbrecht can also use an inlay to replace a defective filling. 

Onlays are also known as partial crowns because they cover a more extensive surface. An onlay sits in the grooves of the tooth, but also replaces one or more cusps. 

Benefits of Inlays and Onlays

For teeth affected by decay, an inlay or onlay can eliminate dental sensitivity and stop the spread of decay to prevent the need for more extensive procedures in the future, such as a root canal or tooth extraction. They also require less tooth reduction than metal fillings or dental crowns, allowing Dr. Ahlbrecht to preserve more of the natural structure of your tooth. In general, inlays and onlays are more durable than fillings and can last up to 30 years. 

We can place inlays and onlays made out of metal, porcelain, or tooth-colored composite material, depending on your needs. 

The Procedure

Inlays and onlays are most commonly used to restore teeth following treatment for decay, though they can also strengthen a tooth damaged due to trauma. When Dr. Ahlbrecht places an inlay or onlay, it will require two appointments. The first stage of treatment involves eliminating all decayed tissue or addressing the damaged area so that it can accommodate a restoration. 

Next, he will take an impression of your tooth and send the information to the lab for fabrications. It can take a week or two for a custom inlay or onlay to return from the lab. We may fit you with a temporary restoration to protect your tooth while you wait. 

At your second appointment, Dr. Ahlbrecht will remove the temporary restoration and place your permanent inlay or onlay using a strong adhesive material. Then, he will polish the surface of your tooth so the restoration does not affect your bite. In some cases, a follow-up visit is necessary to refine the bite surface.

Protect Your Oral Health

Leaving damage or decay untreated can lead to more severe oral health issues. An inlay or onlay from North Meridian Dental Excellence can restore the strength of your tooth and help you avoid the expense and hassle of treating more serious conditions. For more information about inlays and onlays or the other restorative dentistry services we offer, contact our office online or call us at (317) 571-5000 today.

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"North Meridian Dental Excellence is great! They've somehow cracked the code on making a trip to the dentist an enjoyable experience. Dr. Ahlbrecht and his team are all great to work with. Everyone is extremely friendly, nice and fun, while maintaining a professional, clean and private environment."

Nick E.


Indianapolis Office

8902 N Meridian St
Ste 102
Indianapolis, IN 46260

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