Dental Inlays and Onlays in Aurora

Cosmetic, Family & Implant Dentists Serving Aurora, Denver, Centennial & Nearby Colorado

If you have tooth damage that needs to be repaired, the Aurora cosmetic dentists at Aspenwood Dental Associates and Colorado Dental Implant Center can restore strength and function to your tooth with advanced inlays and onlays. Crafted from composite resin or porcelain, our inlay and onlay restorations are a great way to seal areas of decay and fix wear and tear when a simple tooth filling just will not get the job done. 

What are Inlays and Onlays?

Unlike fillings or dental bonding, inlays and onlays must be designed and crafted, and then bonded to enamel. Inlays refer to restorations that are bonded to the inner cusps of teeth. Onlays are set across a tooth’s biting surface and extend over the cusps. An inlay is used when the damage is confined to the biting surface, whereas an onlay is used for more substantial areas of injury that affect the outer tooth surfaces.

Both types may be recommended as part of a reconstructive dentistry plan to replace old, worn, or metal fillings that have become useless over the years.

Inlays and onlays infographic

What’s the Difference Between Inlays and Onlays?

Inlays and onlays serve a similar purpose, but they cover different areas of the teeth. Both are premade to match your bite and replace areas of tooth structure lost to decay.

Inlays, as the name suggests, fit inside your teeth. Onlays also fit inside, but they then extend over the tooth's chewing surface to replace one or more cusps. Both are securely bonded to your teeth to strengthen their overall structure.

How Long Do Inlays and Onlays Last?

Inlays and onlays are long-lasting solutions to dental decay. Typically, these restorations hold up for 10 to 15 years. On the conservative end, you can usually expect to get at least five years out of inlays or onlays, but some patients get up to two decades.

Good oral hygiene, including flossing thoroughly, using an electric toothbrush, and getting regular cleanings, are all steps you can take to extend the life of your dental work. In addition, if some of the damage to your teeth was caused by bruxism (grinding and clenching), our providers might prescribe a custom night guard to protect your dental work.

Are Inlays and Onlays Different From Fillings and Crowns?

When it comes to the extent of tooth restoration, inlays and onlays fall somewhere in the middle. When treating a slightly damaged tooth, we typically start with tooth-colored fillings that replace the decayed area.

Sometimes cavities are too large for a simple filling, but we can still protect the structure of your teeth. In this case, we might opt for inlays or onlays that are prefabricated in a single piece and then cemented on the tooth. 

If the tooth is too severely damaged, we can still restore function and give you a beautiful smile with crowns or implants. Crowns are caps that cover your entire tooth once any decay is removed, while implants are a durable restoration option that can replace lost teeth. Both will typically look indistinguishable from your other teeth.

Are Inlays and Onlays the Same as Veneers?

Like veneers, porcelain inlays and onlays also color-match your natural teeth and can improve the aesthetics of your smile. However, they function differently. While inlays and onlays are used to fill and protect damaged teeth, veneers are primarily used for cosmetic reasons and are cemented to the front of a healthy tooth. 

At Aspenwood Dental Associates and Colorado and Dental Implant Center, we frequently use these treatments together during comprehensive smile makeovers.

How Do Inlays and Onlays Feel?

Immediately after getting an inlay or onlay, you might feel a little sore or uncomfortable from the local anesthetic or holding your mouth open during your appointment. This feeling typically resolves in a matter of days, and patients can generally return to work the same day as their restoration.

Our porcelain or cosmetic resin inlays and onlays will function and look like your other teeth. Initially, the surface of your dental work might feel smoother than the surrounding area, so it could take a few days to acclimate to the new sensation. Fortunately, these restorations don’t require any special care beyond regular oral hygiene practices.

Inlay/Onlay Appointments

To place an inlay or onlay, our dentists will usually require just one visit thanks to the E4D CAD/CAM restoration technology we use. The ceramic we use for our inlays and onlays is closely color matched to your tooth enamel, so you do not have to worry about your dental work being noticed by others.

First, the dentist will remove the old filling or clear out the decay from the tooth. Next, the tooth is prepared with the removal of a small amount of enamel. We take an impression of the tooth, which is then used to design your customized restoration right here in our office.

In cases where we need to send your onlay to a local lab, you will be placed with a temporary restoration and return for a second visit. When the onlay or inlay is complete, you will be fitted with your new restoration and it will be bonded in place.

Patient Testimonials

"They’re always so wonderful!! I left my last dental office when Covid happened and I couldn’t be fit in to be seen, they were a wonderful office too! Glad I found a fantastic replacement. Highly recommend Aspenwood!" - Jamie B.

Why Would I Need a Restoration?

Inlays and onlays are frequently used when damaged enamel requires a stronger solution than a filling, but is not severe enough to warrant a dental crown. They are less expensive than dental crowns and preserve more of your natural tooth.

For answers to all your questions about fillings, inlays/onlays, dental crowns, and other tooth repair solutions, please contact the skilled dental professionals at Aspenwood Dental Associates by calling 303-751-3321. Our dentists and team members are excited to help you get a beautiful smile you can be proud of.