Inlays and Onlays
Arlington VA


Inlays and Onlays

Inlays are a type of dental filling that can address cavities and other damage, while onlays are a treatment for more severe damage done to the cusps of a tooth. Inlays and onlays are used primarily in premolars or molars, when the tooth has experienced too much damage to support a simple basic filling, but not enough damage that a crown is necessary.

When you experience tooth damage or decay, it is important to address it as soon as possible. While there are a variety of treatment options, the correct one depends on the amount of damage. Sometimes, the damage is just too much for a simple filling, but yet not extensive enough for a crown or cap. This is the situation when the treatment option is getting an inlay or onlay.

The entire caring staff at Cherrydale Family Dental prides ourselves in working with all members of the family, from infant to teenager to mom and dad to grandparents. Patience is a virtue we practice. We find satisfaction daily in helping a patient grow and mature with good oral health. If you have any questions at all regarding dental inlays and onlays, simply call Cherrydale Family Dental at 703-243-8288. You can find us at 4399 Old Dominion Drive, Arlington, VA, 22312.



What Exactly are Inlays?

Inlays are molded to repair a tooth whose central part has been damaged by a cavity to the point where a conventional filling would not make the tooth strong enough to resume its biting and chewing function. The inlay mold is made in the exact size and shape of the cavity and is then fit and cemented into the groove of your tooth between the cusps, which are the raised pointed parts of the tooth. Our staff will remove the decayed part of your tooth before taking the impression needed to fabricate an inlay that will fit perfectly into the cavity.

What Exactly are Onlays?

Onlays are literally bigger in size than inlays. They are fabricated in a single piece that sits on the groove of the tooth and then wraps partly or fully over the cusps to repair the damaged part of the tooth. For this reason, onlays are sometimes described as a partial crown. As with the inlay procedure, we must first remove the decayed part of your tooth before taking an impression for fabricating the onlay in a dental lab. When completed, the mold is fit on to the tooth and cemented into place to repair the damage.

Whether the staff at Cherrydale Family Dental recommends either an inlay or an onlay, you will enjoy certain benefits in both cases. Your tooth will be stronger because the material used for the restoration is strong and lasts longer. You also will no longer struggle with the sensitivity of the tooth. Finally, we have preserved a natural tooth which is a foundational goal of our staff.

How Does the Process Work?

Inlays and onlays are an indirect filling that are meant to restore the tooth. Depending on the extent of the exact damage, you can receive either an inlay or onlay. If the decay and damage is between the edges, or cusps, of the tooth, then we will call the treatment an inlay. If the damage is broader and crosses the tooth and includes a cusp or two, an onlay will be the best option. Unlike direct fillings in which we place directly in our office, inlays and onlays are created and fabricated in a dental lab, which is why they are called indirect fillings.

Once the inlay or onlay has been created, we will bond the piece to your tooth, much like the procedure of placing a crown. This is however a much more conservative treatment and allows you to retain more of your natural tooth. When we do this procedure, it will take a few appointments. We will administer a local anesthetic each visit to numb the tooth and minimize and discomfort. The first visit involves removing the decay, taking a mold of the eventual inlay or onlay, and then placing a temporary filler where the inlay or onlay will be bonded. We will place the restoration permanently on your tooth the second visit. The dental industry strongly suggests a two-step program for good preventative oral health care. The first step is to diligently brush your teeth twice a day and to floss at least once a day. Your efforts at home should be complimented by two dental examinations at Cherrydale Family Dental a year for checkups and professional cleanings. By doing this your inlay or onlay can have a very long-life expectancy.


There are many benefits of choosing an inlay or onlay as your treatment option, all of which will be discussed with us at your evaluation. One of the primary benefits is that it is designed to fit your exact tooth. The mold is created to preserve as much of your natural tooth as possible, and it is also made in the same color as your tooth. Aesthetically, you will be pleased with either an inlay or an onlay. With its easy maintenance, the strength it brings to the tooth, and the protection it adds to keep a natural tooth, you can be sure that this choice to correct your tooth decay is viable option. These fillings have been proven to actually help restore strength to your original tooth. They do not require any more attention than your natural teeth, so you do not need to worry about any additional dental costs once the procedure is completed.


Quality Dental Care for ALL Family Members

At Cherrydale Family Dental, 4399 Old Dominion Dr., Arlington, VA, we work hard to develop trusting and lasting relationships with our patients through thorough evaluations and choosing the right treatments together. We want to make educated decisions together so you as a patient becomes a friend and part of our family. We want to contribute to helping you maintain good oral health indefinitely. We always look forward to seeing you and discussing what is best for you and your smile. Please contact us at 703-243-8288 to discuss your options regarding the benefits of either an inlay or onlay and how it can improve your quality of life.


Modern dentistry techniques, affordable prices and financial options make it easier than ever for you to have a bright and healthy smile. We are currently accepting new patients and we would love to help you get the smile you’ve always dreamed of.

Call us at (703) 243-8288 to book an appointment OR easily using the button below.