Brushing and flossing your teeth every day is an essential habit for reducing the number of oral bacteria that build up in your mouth. When you neglect your oral care routine, or you regularly miss the same areas of your mouth, bacteria are left to multiply. They feed on lingering food particles, producing harmful acids as they do. Over time these acids begin to erode your enamel causing small pits, or cavities, to form. Bacteria take up residence inside. The longer the tooth decay goes untreated, the larger the cavities become. Eventually, the cavities can enter the inner layer of the affected tooth, which can lead to a serious infection. Cavities can form anywhere on the tooth, including the chewing surfaces. For cavities such as these, National Dental Sunnyside offers inlays and onlays.


When it comes to cavities, fillings (amalgam or composite resin) are the typical go-to solution. Cavities on the chewing surfaces of your molars, however, can present a bit of an issue. Placing fillings in these areas can compromise the strength of the tooth, which can put it at risk for serious damage.

Inlays and onlays, on the other hand, strengthen the affected tooth. Known as an indirect filling, meaning they are designed and created outside of the tooth, rather than being cured inside of the cavity. Inlays are used when a single cusp has been affected by a cavity. Onlays sometimes called a partial crown, are used when multiple cusps are affected. Both inlays and onlays are made from either composite resin or ceramic. These materials perfectly match the color of your natural teeth.


Getting an inlay or an onlay typically requires two visits. During the first visit, the procedure begins similarly to how direct fillings are placed. We remove the decay from your tooth and clean it. This is where the similarities end. Next, we take an impression of the tooth, which is sent to a lab. There, your inlay or onlay is designed and created. As it can take up to two weeks for your final restoration to be finished, you will be provided with a temporary one while you wait. On your second visit, we check your inlay or onlay for fit and then cement it into place.


Inlays and onlays have several benefits:

  • They fit perfectly into the cavity. You do not have to worry about them shrinking during the curing process like amalgam and composite resin fillings do.
  • They provide your tooth with strength, rather than potentially weakening it and putting it at risk for further harm.
  • They require very minimal tooth preparation.
  • They are much less invasive than options like dental crowns.
  • They are less expensive than dental crowns.
  • The materials used (composite resin or porcelain) for the restorations blend in perfectly with the color of your enamel.
  • Composite resin and porcelain are not affected by temperature fluctuations (unlike amalgam, which contains metals).

If you have a cavity on the chewing surface of your molar, inlays and onlays may be able to help. Call National Dental Sunnyside today at (718) 925-3365 to find out more.