Inlays and Onlays in North Carolina

Providing quality restorative dentistry treatments in Durham, Raleigh, and Goldsboro.

Tooth decay is a common, though preventable, oral health problem. According to the CDC, about 25% of adults aged 20-64 and 13% of children and teens have untreated cavities. While you can sometimes reverse a small cavity, the hole in your enamel will continue to grow if no oral hygiene changes are made. At Carolina Dental Arts, we often repair small cavities with dental fillings, but larger ones require a different approach. Fortunately, dental advancements like inlays and onlays offer effective solutions for moderate to large cavities. These custom-made restorations are designed to repair and strengthen teeth damaged by decay.

What Are Dental Inlays and Onlays?

When a cavity is too large for a dental filling, we may suggest an inlay or an onlay. These types of fillings are made in a dental lab and are custom-made to fit the exact specifications of your tooth. They are often made from porcelain, composite resin, or gold, providing a long-lasting and durable solution for decay.

Whether we recommend an inlay or an onlay depends on the location of the cavity. The cusps of a tooth are the pointed or raised parts at the top that help you bite and chew. Between them are pits and grooves.

The main difference between inlays and onlays is the part of the tooth they cover. An inlay is used for cavities in the depressions between the cusps, while an onlay covers cavities that affect the pits, grooves, and at least one of the cusps.

What Restoration Do You Need?

Inlays and Onlays in North Carolina | Carolina Dental Arts
Inlay, Onlay, Crown

The type of restoration we recommend is based on the size and location of the decay or damage:

  • If you have a small cavity, then we may recommend a dental filling.
  • If you have a larger cavity that doesn’t affect the cusp of the tooth, then we may recommend an inlay.
  • If you have a larger cavity that affects the cusp or edge of the tooth, then we may recommend an onlay.
  • If you have severe tooth damage or decay, or your tooth was treated with a root canal, then we may recommend a dental crown.

The Benefits of Inlays and Onlays

Inlays and onlays are a great middle ground between fillings and crowns, and they offer many benefits to our patients, including:

  1. Precise, targeted fit: Inlays and onlays are custom-made to fit your tooth perfectly. They are tailored to address specific areas of decay or damage, ensuring targeted treatment.
  2. Durability: Made from strong materials, inlays and onlays reinforce the tooth and provide long-lasting protection. Many inlays and onlays last 30 years!
  3. Aesthetic appeal: Porcelain and composite resin restorations match the shade of your teeth to maintain a natural look. Porcelain inlays and onlays are also remarkably stain-resistant, helping to keep your smile radiant for many years.
  4. Minimally invasive option: Compared to traditional fillings and crowns, inlays and onlays require us to remove less healthy tooth tissue. As a result, they preserve more of your tooth’s structure.
  5. Biocompatibility: These restorations are made from materials that are well-tolerated by the body, reducing the risk of allergic reactions.

With a custom inlay or onlay, you can enjoy better oral health, comfortable eating and chewing, and a restored smile.

The Process

Inlays and Onlays in North Carolina | Carolina Dental Arts

Inlays and onlays are called indirect fillings. Unlike direct fillings, which are placed in one visit, inlays and onlays are custom-made in a dental lab and usually require two visits to place. Here’s what the process entails:

Visit 1: We will use a drill to remove any old fillings or decay from the affected tooth. Then, we will take digital impressions using an intraoral scanner. The scanner captures precise 3D images of your tooth that the dental lab uses to customize your restoration. While you wait for your custom inlay or onlay, we will fill the cavity with a temporary filling to protect the prepared tooth from additional damage.

Visit 2: Once your custom restoration is complete, you will come back to Carolina Dental Arts, and we will remove the temporary filling. Then, we will place the custom inlay or onlay on your tooth to ensure it fits perfectly. After the fit check, we will cement the restoration into place, restoring the tooth’s function and appearance.

After getting your inlay or onlay, avoid eating hard or sticky foods for at least 24 hours to allow the restoration to fully set. You should also maintain good oral hygiene by brushing and flossing gently around the treated area. If you experience any discomfort or sensitivity, over-the-counter pain relief can help, but please contact us if it persists.

Experience the Precision of Custom Inlays and Onlays

Inlays and onlays are effective solutions for restoring teeth with moderate to severe decay. They offer a durable and aesthetically pleasing middle ground between traditional fillings and dental crowns. These custom-made restorations preserve the natural structure of your tooth, provide enhanced strength, and ensure a comfortable and natural look. If you have tooth decay or damage, ask us about inlays and onlays. Schedule a visit to Carolina Dental Arts today to learn more about how these treatments can restore your smile and improve your oral health.

Frequently Asked Questions

Inlays and onlays tend to be less expensive than crowns. This is because they require less material and are less invasive, preserving more of the natural tooth structure. While crowns encase the entire tooth, providing extensive coverage and protection, inlays and onlays are designed to fit precisely into the affected areas, addressing specific damage.

The cost of your treatment will depend on your insurance coverage, the materials used for your restoration, and the complexity of your case. When you visit Carolina Dental Arts, we will give you a detailed cost breakdown based on your specific needs and circumstances.

Inlays and onlays are securely bonded to the tooth, so it is rare for them to fall off. However, trauma to the tooth may dislodge the restoration. Maintaining good oral hygiene and avoiding habits like chewing on hard objects or grinding your teeth can help ensure the longevity of inlays and onlays. If an inlay or onlay does become loose or falls off, it’s important to call us promptly to have it re-cemented or replaced to prevent further damage the tooth.

Caring for an inlay or onlay is similar to caring for your natural teeth. Regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily help maintain the health of the restored tooth and surrounding gum tissue. Avoiding hard or sticky foods can prevent dislodging or damaging the restoration.

Routine dental checkups are crucial for monitoring the integrity of the inlay or onlay and ensuring it remains securely bonded. If you grind your teeth at night, wearing a night guard can protect both your natural teeth and any restorations. Proper oral hygiene and regular dental visits will help extend the life of your inlay or onlay.

Our Locations

Carolina Dental Arts - Durham Location - Durham North Carolina Dentist


415 Dunstan Avenue
Durham, NC 27707

(919) 683-1847 View Location

Glenwood South

301 Glenwood Ave, Suite 210
Raleigh, NC 27603

(919) 670-4944 View Location
Goldsboro Dental Office Carolina Dental Arts North Carolina


2720 Graves Drive
Goldsboro, NC 27534

(919) 778-0098 View Location
Carolina Dental Arts - New Bern Ave - Dentist in North Carolina

New Bern Ave

3110 New Bern Ave, Suite 102
Raleigh, NC 27610

(984) 242-0568 View Location

Read Our Dental Blog

Learn about the services we provide, and the latest advancements in general, cosmetic, and implant dentistry.

Your Orthodontic Treatment Options at Carolina Dental Arts

Our smiles can affect our confidence at any age. Imagine being a teenager, excited for school picture day but feeling self-conscious about your crooked teeth. Fast forward to adulthood, where first impressions matter in your [...]

Permanent Teeth Whitening With Veneers Can Transform Your Smile

Over time, our teeth bear the brunt of daily activities—whether it’s enjoying a delicious meal, engaging in sports, or simply aging gracefully. All these can lead to our teeth losing their bright, vibrant color. This [...]

Same-Day Dental Implants Can Restore Your Smile Instantly

In today’s world, we’re all about speed and convenience. We love having our packages delivered on the same day and streaming our favorite shows whenever we want. So why shouldn’t dental care be just as [...]

How Can We Make You Smile Today?