Inlays & Onlays for La Jolla, Del Mar, & Pacific Beach

Inlays & Onlays for La Jolla, Del Mar, & Pacific Beach

At La Jolla Family Smile Design, our dentists always try to preserve as much healthy tooth structure as we can. We feel it is best for the ultimate health and longevity of your teeth if we can repair problems like decay without removing more tooth structure than is necessary. 

When are Inlays and Onlays Needed?

If you have a tooth with too much decay for a traditional filling, but not enough to require a crown, our dentists might recommend inlays and onlays. These restorations are larger than fillings but more conservative than a full-coverage dental crown. 

From a functional and aesthetic standpoint, inlays and onlays are an outstanding option. They look very natural and blend in with the color of the surrounding tooth enamel. An inlay or onlay can help prolong the life of your tooth while improving its shape and form.

What Are Inlays and Onlays?

Like fillings, inlays and onlays replace tooth structure that has developed decay. They are generally used for teeth with larger cavities; they can also replace older dental fillings.

Inlays fit in the center of the chewing surface of the tooth, in between its top points or “cusps.” Onlays are larger and cover a greater portion of the tooth structure, including one or more cusps.

Both inlays and onlays create a tight seal over the tooth to keep more bacteria from getting into its crevices. They are constructed from durable porcelain, which is both strong and beautiful. You can chew and bite comfortably on a tooth with an inlay and onlay, trusting that the strong material will resist damage. 

Inlays and Onlays Placement Details

The process of getting an inlay or onlay usually requires one dental appointment. Instead of placing the composite resin filling material directly onto the tooth and shaping it to fit the space, inlays and onlays are fabricated as one piece and fit precisely into the tooth. They are custom-made for a perfect fit and appearance.


During your appointment, one of our dentists will prepare your tooth receiving the restoration by removing damaged or decayed areas. The dentist will clean the tooth completely. The two of you will decide on the appropriate color of your restoration based on your surrounding tooth structure. Impressions will be made of the affected tooth,

Dental Inlays & Onlays for San Diego

When your permanent inlay or onlay is ready, the second visit takes place. The temporary restoration will be removed and our dentist will place your permanent one. If you are happy with the way it looks and feels, and it supports a proper bite, the dentist will cement it to the tooth.


It may take a few days to get used to the way your inlay or onlay feels. However, you should not feel any pain with your new restoration. You can brush and floss your restored tooth just as you would your natural teeth. 


Is there a difference between inlays and onlays?

Both inlays and onlays are referred to as indirect fillings and can be made from tooth-colored composite resin, porcelain, or gold. Also, both are generally a more conservative approach to dental restoration than traditional crowns.

However, there is a difference between inlays and onlays. Inlays are similar to traditional dental fillings except that they only lie within the cusps (the bumpy chewing surface) of the tooth. Onlays differ from inlays in that they can cover a larger area and may be used to treat one or more cusps. Onlays are often called partial crowns.

How long do inlays and onlays last?

Unlike traditional fillings, inlays and onlays offer more durability. In fact, many patients enjoy the benefits of their onlays and inlays for up to 30 years with proper care. However, there are many factors that go into the longevity of these treatments. After receiving inlays or onlays, it is important to continue taking care of your new smile to protect its health.

How much do inlays and onlays cost?

Inlays and onlays are a customized treatment at La Jolla Family Smile Design that includes several patient-specific variables, including how many teeth will be treated. Because of this, the cost of your treatment can only be provided after a consultation with one of our dental experts, during which a tailored treatment plan and detailed list of associated fees will be given to you.

How do I take care of my teeth after inlays and onlays?

Although there are no special maintenance requirements for your inlays or onlays, establishing and sticking to a good dental hygiene routine can help prolong the health of your smile for years to come. Ensure that you brush and floss using the appropriate techniques, which help eliminate harmful plaque from the teeth’s surface as well as leftover food debris from between teeth. These measures can also prevent gum disease and tooth decay. Additionally, make sure to use dental products containing fluoride, such as toothpaste and mouthwash, which can strengthen the enamel of the teeth and further protect them from damage. Lastly, make sure you attend regularly scheduled dental exams; for many patients, every six months is adequate, but your LJFSD dentist will recommend the appropriate dental cleaning interval for you.

Is the process of getting inlays or onlays painful?

In some cases, patients may even delay their dental treatments in an effort to avoid any perceived anticipated pain associated with their upcoming procedures. However, delaying dental treatment can ultimately worsen the dental condition. Our experts fully understand that, for many patients, visiting the dentist for a procedure can be a stressful event. This is why we strive to provide the best experience possible for our patients before, during, and after services are performed. This includes employing the most suitable methods to limit pain during your procedure.

Are veneers the same as onlays?

Both veneers and onlays cover a portion of the tooth’s surface. Onlays fill extensive damage to the tooth, including the cusps. In contrast, veneers are thin shells that cover the front of the tooth and are used cosmetically to enhance the appearance of the smile.

Contact Our Dental Team about Inlays & Onlays Today

Looking for more information about restoring decayed teeth with inlays or onlays, or replacing old metal fillings with modern, attractive restorations? La Jolla Family Smile Design is here for you. Please call 858-454-3044 or email us today to speak with a member of our team.