When more than half of the tooth’s biting surface is damaged, Dr. Supowitz may use an inlay/onlay.

What are inlays/onlays?

Inlays/onlays can be made of porcelain, gold, or composite resin. They are bonded to the damaged area of the tooth. An inlay (which is similar in size to a filling) is used inside the cusp tips of the tooth. An onlay is a more substantial restoration extending out over one or more of the cusps of the tooth.

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

How are they applied?

Inlays/onlays require two appointments to complete the procedure. During the first visit, 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 then a temporary restoration is placed.

At the second appointment, the temporary restoration is removed. Dr. Supowitz then makes sure that the inlay/onlay fits correctly and bonds it to the tooth.


Traditional fillings can reduce the strength of a natural tooth by up to 50 percent. As an alternative, 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. As a result, they can last for many years.

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