Dental Inlays and Onlays

Dental Inlays and Onlays in Sterling, VA

Inlays and Onlays are an excellent dental option for patients with teeth that have been damaged but not to the point of needing a full crown. Teeth that have endured small chips or cracks can often be repaired with onlays or inlays. These restoration procedures can help to strengthen teeth, improve their appearance, and protect them from further damage.

If you are interested in learning more about how inlays and onlays can help restore teeth, call us today at (703) 991-2673 to schedule a consultation.

What Are Dental Inlays and Onlays?

Inlays and onlays are custom-made tooth fillings made from porcelain, gold, or resin. They are used to restore decayed teeth or teeth that chips or cracks have damaged. Inlay and onlay treatments can be a great alternative to traditional dental fillings or a full dental crown because they are more durable and look more like your own natural teeth.

What Is the Difference?

Dental inlays and onlays are both types of dental restoration used to repair damage to your tooth structure, but they have some key distinctions.


An inlay is a type of dental restoration we use to rebuild the chewing surfaces of your natural teeth damaged by decay or wear. It is a custom-made restoration made from porcelain, gold, or composite resin. Inlays are much more durable and stronger than fillings and can last for many years. They are also less likely to cause sensitivity than fillings. 


Onlays are dental fillings made of tooth-colored materials and used to restore the size, shape, and function. Onlays are custom-made to fit the space left by decay or a fractured tooth. Unlike traditional dental fillings, onlays are fabricated and bonded to the tooth in a dental laboratory. If you have a cavity that is too big for a filling or if we think you need more than just a filling, we may recommend an onlay.

Benefits of Inlays and Onlays

Unlike a dental filling, an inlay is placed within the cusps (points) of a tooth, while an onlay is positioned over the entire surface. Both procedures offer several benefits over traditional fillings, including: 

  • A longer lifespan 
  • Reduced likelihood of tooth decay 
  • Improved appearance compared to conventional fillings 
  • More conservative treatment than crowns

Frequently Asked Questions About Dental Inlays and Onlays

Who is a good candidate for these treatments?

Onlays and inlays are good options for people looking for an alternative to a dental crown. Dentists will often recommend onlays or inlays over crowns because they are less invasive and require less preparation time. If you have a cavity that is too big for a filling but not bad enough to require a crown, you may be a good candidate for an inlay or onlay.

What should I expect during treatment?

First, your dentist will numb the area where the inlay or onlay will be placed. Then they will remove any decay and shape the tooth. Next, they will take an impression of your teeth and send them to a dental lab. You will return after a few weeks to have the new inlay or onlay placed. It will then be smoothed and polished so it looks natural. Inlay placements typically involve two appointments, while onlay placements may require three appointments.

How long do they last, and will they require replacement?

Inlays and onlays are very durable dental restorations. With proper care and maintenance, many can last you upward of 20-30 years. You may not need them replaced. It is vital to take good care of your teeth and practice good oral hygiene to prolong the life of your inlays and onlays.

Is the procedure painful?

Modern dentistry has come a long way in making procedures less painful. Inlays and onlays are one procedure that is now less painful than they used to be. While the procedures may cause some discomfort, it is typically short-lived and manageable with over-the-counter pain medications.

Make an Appointment with Us

Our team at PK Family Dentistry believes that our patient’s oral health is vitally important. Our office provides comprehensive dental care for every member of your family, no matter their age. If you’ve been looking for a dentist who can provide personalized attention with state-of-the-art technology and techniques, make an appointment by calling 703-421-8988 today!