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Inlays & Onlays

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Avoid Decay With Inlays & Onlays

Dental Inlays and Onlays are an option for dealing with decaying or damaged teeth. Inlays and onlays are an alternative option to both dental crowns and composite fillings often recommended for light to medium tooth damage.

An Inlay or onlay would not be suggested to repair a tooth that has been severely broken, but it can be an option for minor to moderate damage or for restoring a minor to a moderate cavity.

If a dental crown acts like a cover, replacing the entire damaged tooth, then an inlay or onlay acts more like a patch, fixing just the damaged area.

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Benefits to Getting an Inlay or Onlay

Dental crowns are not the right choice for everyone. If the damage is not severe, or if an alternative to composite a filling is desired, then many patients may be better off choosing an inlay or onlay. Many of the benefits come from the fact that an inlay or onlay is applied directly to the natural tooth, instead of attempting to cover or replace it. The benefits of dental inlays or onlays include:

  • They only cover part of the tooth. This allows much of the natural tooth to be preserved, unlike with a dental crown.
  • They help protect the remaining teeth. Inlays and onlays cover the damaged bit of a tooth and eliminating that damage can leave the remaining teeth better protected from further damage.
  • Inlays blend in well. Because inlays and onlays cover only a part of the tooth, they are often undetectable. This is particularly true of inlays, which are done at the center of the tooth.
  • They are good for tight spaces. If a patient’s teeth are very close together, then inlays and onlays can help because they don’t require as much space as a dental crown.
  • They have little to no impact on the surrounding teeth. Crowns or other procedures can affect the surrounding teeth, but an inlay or onlay is applied directly to the tooth, minimizing any adverse impact with the surrounding teeth.

For patients who have minor tooth damage or decay, an inlay or an onlay could be a good alternative to a dental crown. This is particularly true of patients who wish to preserve the natural tooth as much as possible.

Getting an Inlay or Onlay

Patients in the Burke, Virginia area who are experiencing tooth pain should contact Burke Dental and schedule an appointment. No one should have to live with tooth pain, not when there are lots of solutions out there. The initial examination will help our team determine the best course of action and we will then recommend a procedure. If the tooth damage is minor, then we may recommend an inlay or onlay.


When Would An Inlay Or Onlay Be Recommended

An inlay or onlay will be recommended for minor to moderate tooth damage. An inlay will likely be recommended if the damage is near the center of the tooth, while an outlay for damage near the top or exterior wall of the tooth. An inlay or onlay cannot repair a broken tooth, instead it is meant to fix small areas of concern. If there is a large amount of damage or if the tooth is broken or unstable, our team will likely recommend another treatment option such as a dental crown instead.


The Procedure

Similar to a dental crown, an inlay or onlay generally requires two visits to the dentist’s office. This is so that the inlay or onlay can be customized to the individual patient for the best fit and function. Our team will take some pictures of the tooth, as well as make an impression of the damaged tooth so that the inlay or onlay can be created. Our team may also choose to fit a patient with a temporary restoration to prevent the tooth from further damage.

Before beginning the procedure, the area around the tooth will be made numb in order to minimize the patient’s discomfort.  The damaged portion of the tooth will then be removed and an impression will be taken of the remaining, natural tooth structure.  If needed, the temporary restoration will then be secured in place and will remain until the patient returns after the inlay or onlay has been fabricated.

Once the inlay or onlay has been fabricated, the patient will return to our office for a second visit. If there is a temporary restoration in place, it will be removed before the custom inlay or onlay is placed. The inlay or onlay will then be bonded to the tooth. Afterward, the dentist will clean and polish the patient’s teeth to create a natural effect.



Getting inlays and onlays is a relatively simple procedure. The numbing agent will create an odd feeling in the patient’s mouth and they will be advised to be careful and make sure they don’t bite the inside of their mouth. Once the numbness has worn off, there may be a little bit of discomfort and an odd sensation. The inlay or onlay may feel weird if a patient runs their tongue over it. Any strangeness should go away quickly once the patient gets used to the feeling and the discomfort should pass quickly. Once the numbness has worn off, a patient can resume their normal activities without having to worry about their teeth.


Knowing if an Inlay or Onlay is the Right Choice

An inlay or an outlay can be a great alternative to a dental crown or a traditional composite filling. In cases when there is only minimal to moderate damage to the tooth, an inlay or onlay may be a preferred treatment option compared to a dental crown or traditional composite filling. Generally, the team at Burke Dental will recommend preserving the natural tooth if possible. Inlays or onlays are sometimes referred to as the conservative choice and there are times when the conservative choice is the right one, especially when it minimizes unnecessary procedures.


Contact Burke Dental Today!

The only way to find out if an inlay or onlay is the right choice is to make an appointment. Patients in Burke, Virginia can trust the team at Burke Dental to recommend the right choice for them. The best way to find out if an inlay or an outlay is the right solution to your damaged tooth is to make an appointment and come into our office. An appointment can be requested online or by calling our office at 703-978-6000.


We are located at 9006 Fern Park Drive Ste A, Burke, VA 22015

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