Inlays and onlays are restoration made in a dental laboratory to repair a tooth that has a defective filling or a cavity. Instead of using the usual restorative materials like amalgams (silver fillings) or composites (white fillings), it is possible to turn to a more solid method to fix a tooth.

Inlays can restore teeth with little destruction. Onlays are bigger restorations where there was previously a big cavity or a big filling.

There are different materials to make inlays and onlays, such as gold, porcelain, and resin. Gold being more durable but less esthetic than porcelain, the choice of the material is done according to the patient’s desires, the dentist’s recommendation, and the location of the tooth being repaired.

If the destruction of the tooth is extensive, the dentist might instead suggest using a crown to repair the tooth.

Advantages of inlays and onlays

  • Gives resistance to the tooth and allows avoiding fractures.
  • Gives more durability that the conventional fillings in amalgam or composite.
  • Allows conserving more the integrity of the natural tooth and avoiding the long run root canals.
  • Contributes to give back the esthetic aspect of the tooth.

Lifespan of inlays and onlays

Inlays and onlays last between five and twenty years, mainly depending on the oral hygiene and the maintenance, the material used (gold versus porcelain), and also of oral habits (grinding the teeth, chewing on ice, or biting the nails lessen the lifespan of an inlays and onlays).


WebMD (
Wikipedia (
Ordre des Dentistes du Québec (

The information above should be used as a reference only. Any medical decision should not be taken before consulting a health care professional.

The masculine gender may have been more used in the article, but without prejudice, to make reading easier.

Category Treatments