When you have a cavity, fillings are a common solution. They are a quick and simple procedure, able to be completed in a single visit. However, in some instances, the location of your cavity, or the size of it, makes a filling an impractical solution. A dental crown could be used, but it is a more involved process. At National Dental East Meadow, we can restore these more difficult cavities with inlays and onlays.


Cavities form as a result of tooth decay. Oral bacteria live in your mouth naturally. They feed on food particles that linger around in your mouth after eating, and they reproduce at a rapid rate. Brushing and flossing help to bring the number of oral bacteria back down.

As bacteria eat, they produce acids. The acids eat away at the enamel of your teeth, forming small pits in your teeth. Bacteria hide out in these newly formed pits and continue to cause damage. The cavities grow. Eventually, the cavities may even extend into the dentin layer of your teeth, which can lead to a serious infection.


Fillings are an extremely common treatment for cavities. However, they are not always the best solution. Inlays are often used when you have a cavity that affects a single cusp of a molar’s chewing surface. An onlay is used when the cavity affects multiple cusps on a molar’s chewing surface, designed to rebuild the structure of the tooth. Both options are used because a filling would only compromise the tooth, potentially leading to splitting or other damage. Inlays and onlays are frequently made out of composite resin or porcelain, which perfectly match the natural color of your teeth.


The procedure for placing inlays and onlays, which is often referred to as indirect fillings, starts similar to traditional fillings. We first must clean the decay from the cavity and disinfect it. From this point on, the procedure differs.

Once the tooth is cleaned, an impression of the affected tooth is taken. This impression is used to design and fabricate a filling in a lab. Once the filling is completed, it is cemented in place into the cavity.


There are several benefits to inlays and onlays:

  • The composite resin or porcelain inlays and onlays perfectly blend in with the rest of your natural teeth.
  • Porcelain and composite resins are mercury and metal free.
  • The indirect fillings do not shrink upon curing (both direct amalgam and composite resin fillings do this).
  • Indirect fillings are not affected by heat or cold.
  • Both inlays and onlays provide strength to the tooth, rather than putting it at risk for further damage.
  • More of your natural tooth enamel is preserved in the tooth preparation process. When making room for a filling, some of the enamel must be removed to make room for it to fit. Amalgam fillings require more than composite resin. Dental crowns require the most tooth removal of all options.
  • Inlays and onlays are a more affordable option than dental crowns.

Cavities in your teeth should be addressed as soon as possible. Contact National Dental East Meadow today at (516) 962-2292 to find out if inlays and onlays are the right solutions for you.