When you have a cavity, fillings are often the solution of choice. They are simple, quick and minimally invasive. However, certain cavities, such as those on the chewing surfaces of your molars, are more difficult to fill than others. Crowns are one option, but they require the removal of a lot more of your natural tooth structure. At National Dental Douglaston, we can fix cavities on the chewing surfaces of your molars with inlays and onlays.


Cavities form as a result of tooth decay. When you ignore brushing and flossing your teeth, or consistently miss certain areas, food particles can build up. These particles attract oral bacteria, which feast on them while they multiply. As the bacteria eat, they produce acids, which eat away at the enamel of your teeth, causing pits. Bacteria can then hide out in these cavities, and continue to cause further destruction.


Inlays and onlays are made to fill cavities on the chewing surfaces of your teeth. Inlays can help with damage done to a single cusp. Onlays are used when the damage affects multiple cusps and is designed to build up the structure of the tooth. It is sometimes called a partial crown because it covers the entire chewing surface. Inlays and onlays can be made from composite resin, porcelain or metal. Composite resin and porcelain offer the cosmetic benefit of being able to blend into the color of your natural tooth.


Inlays and onlays are what are known as indirect fillings, and the process for both is essentially the same. We start just as we would with any other filling – removing the decay and cleaning the tooth. We then take an impression of the tooth. The impression is sent to our lab and used to fabricate your custom inlay or onlay. The process can take up to two weeks so that you will be provided with a temporary restoration in the meantime. When your inlay or onlay is finished, the temporary restoration is removed and your permanent one checked for fit. If everything checks out, the inlay or onlay will be cemented into place.


Inlays and onlays have many benefits:

  • Porcelain and composite resin fillings blend into the color of your natural teeth.
  • One reason many patients avoid traditional amalgam fillings is that they contain a small amount of mercury. Inlays and onlays avoid the use of mercury.
  • Porcelain and composite resin inlays and onlays contain no metals, so there is no worry about an allergic reaction.
  • Direct fillings (both amalgam and composite resin) shrink during the curing process. Inlays and onlays, no matter what the material, do not.
  • Direct fillings, particularly amalgam fillings, can weaken the tooth, or put it at risk of fracturing. Inlays and onlays are designed to build up the strength of the tooth.
  • Less enamel needs to be removed for placement of inlays and onlays.
  • They are a more affordable option than dental crowns.

If you have experienced tooth decay, inlays and onlays may be able to help. Contact National Dental Douglaston today at (718) 557-9882 to find out if they are right for you.