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Inlays and Onlays: A Conservative Alternative to Crowns

Inlays and onlays are custom-crafted restorations that can repair teeth weakened by large cavities or other damage. Dr. Bruce Watkins at Watkins Family Dentistry in Elkhart, IN, uses advanced CEREC® technology to create and place inlays and onlays in as little as one appointment. These restorations offer a conservative way to restore a tooth that is unable to be repaired with a tooth-colored dental filling, but does not require a dental crown.

What Are Dental Inlays and Onlays?

Dental inlays and onlays are often recommended for patients with large cavities in the back molars that have occurred on the biting surface of a tooth. However, patients with structural damage, such as chips and cracks, and patients with previous cavities that have developed new decay, may also benefit from this treatment.

Dr. Bruce Watkins uses advanced CEREC® technology to create and place inlays and onlays in as little as one appointment.

Inlays and onlays are similar restorative dentistry treatments that differ only in size and shape. An inlay is slightly smaller and is used to repair damage that has occurred within the tooth’s cusps, or the raised edges of the tooth. An onlay is larger in design and is recommended when the decay has extended over at least one cusp and down the side of a tooth.

Illustration of inlay and onlay

Placing Inlays and Onlays

Using advanced CEREC® technology, Dr. Watkins can typically create and place an inlay or onlay in a single visit. The first step in the procedure is to numb the tooth and surrounding tissues with a local anesthetic. We also provide stronger sedation options, if necessary. Dr. Watkins will then remove any damaged portions from the tooth, being sure to clean and disinfect the area thoroughly. Secondly, he will create digital impressions of your bite using CEREC® technology, which will be used to create a custom inlay or onlay. Once these impressions are done, a porcelain restoration will be created in our office within a few minutes. Dr. Watkins will then secure the inlay or onlay firmly to the surface of your tooth using a specialized dental cement.

Benefits of Inlays and Onlays

Because minimal tooth alteration is required, inlays and onlays provide a more conservative approach to restoring your smile compared to dental crowns. Inlays and onlays are able to preserve as much of the healthy tooth as possible, while still offering a long-lasting solution for repairing your smile. Made from durable ceramic, inlays and onlays are also very stable and secure. When properly cared for, these restorations can last up to 20 years. Lastly, your restoration will be precisely customized to blend with your tooth’s natural appearance, providing a seamless fit and realistic results.

Learn More During an Appointment

If you have one or more decayed or damaged teeth and think that you could benefit from an inlay or an onlay, Dr. Watkins can evaluate your candidacy during an examination. Reach out to the practice today by calling (574) 293-9832 or fill out our online contact form.

Get In Touch

(574) 293-9832

Watkins Family Dentistry


Elkhart Office

(574) 293-9832

205 E Jackson Blvd
Elkhart, IN 46516