In some cases, traditional fillings aren’t enough to cover certain cavities, so an inlay would be required. In other cases, crowns are too much for a tooth, so an onlay would be required. Also known as indirect fillings, Dr. Langenbach and Dr. Thomas, San Diego, CA cosmetic dentists, use inlays and onlays in their practice to repair damaged and decayed teeth. Both consist of a material, such as resin, porcelain, or gold, that is bonded onto the teeth, where inlays are placed in the center of the surface of the tooth and an onlay is placed on the tooth’s biting surfaces.

“Dr. Thomas is a remarkable dentist. She listens to your concerns and genuinely cares about you. Her staff is friendly. Her office is clean and very nicely decorated. They make you feel like a part of their family.”

– C.R. / Yelp / Nov 18, 2016


A dental inlay or onlay usually takes 2 visits to the dentist’s office. During the first visit, the dentist will prepare the damaged tooth or teeth and take impression molds that will be sent to a dental laboratory. Once the custom inlay or only is made at the lab and returned to the dentist, the patient will come in to have their inlay or onlay placed, fitted, and bonded.


Once the inlay or onlay is bonded to the tooth, patients should not need to alter their home oral care routine. Inlays and onlays should be brushed with the natural teeth at least twice a day and flossed at least once a day. The inlay or onlay may wear down over time and need to be replaced. Patients should continue to see their dentist at least twice a year for professional cleanings, and an annual exam where the dentist can check the integrity of their inlay or onlay.


Inlays usually cost between $250 – $1,500. Outlays usually cost between $350 – $1,500. The cost will depend on how many areas are being treated, the size of the areas treated, and the material chosen for the inlay or onlay. During the initial consultation, the dentist will go over the patient’s options and the break down of costs.


If you are concerned about the strength and health or your teeth, ask your dentist about custom-made inlays and onlays. With more coverage and protection than a filling, but a more conservative approach than a crown, indirect fillings can be a great option.