inlays and Onlays in Salisbury, MD

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Considered “semi-“ or partial crowns , an inlay or onlay can fix a decayed or damaged tooth more conservatively than a full crown (also known as a “cap”). Used on pre-molars and molars, a dental inlay covers the concave inner center of a tooth while an onlay “shoes” partially covering the tooth's outer rounded, upper edges. Like fillings and crowns, inlays and onlays can be made using different materials — metal, porcelain, or composite resin. Dr. Joseph Heher can help his Salisbury, MD patients better understand the differences between crowns, fillings, inlays, and onlays so they can make the best decisions about how to restore damaged teeth at Smiles! Dentistry by Dr. Joseph Heher.

Best Candidates

An inlay or onlay is a good choice if you have a cracked tooth or a large cavity that is too big to be filled but doesn't need the complete coverage of a crown. During your dental exam, Dr. Heher may use your digital x-rays to pick the best method for your tooth. If an inlay or onlay is selected, he will discuss the available materials that will best fit your requirements. Like dental crowns, inlays and onlays are custom restorations created specifically for your unique smile.

What To Expect

After applying a local numbing agent to the treatment area, Dr. Heher will start by removing any areas of decay. Nitrous oxide sedation can also be used to make patients more comfortable. Once the tooth is cleaned and prepared for either an inlay or an onlay, the choice of which will be determined by how much tooth structure must be removed and how much tooth structure is remaining, impressions will be made of the tooth. Similar to a crown, an inlay or onlay is fabricated in a dental lab, and a temporary filling will be placed until it has been constructed and ready to insert into your mouth. Once your inlay or onlay is ready, Dr. Heher will carefully place and bond it to your tooth.


If only local anesthesia was used, you can leave our office after the procedure and return to your normal daily activities. You may feel some discomfort, inflammation, or sensitivity for a couple of days after your inlay or onlay is placed. Please contact Smiles! Dentistry should you have any concerns after your procedure. Your inlay or onlay can be cared for like your natural teeth with daily brushing and flossing. You should schedule annual dental exams and bi-annual cleanings at Smiles! Dentistry by Dr. Joseph Heher so Dr. Heher can assess the health and wear of your inlay or onlay. With appropriate care, it should last for many years before needing to be replaced or repaired.

Insurance Coverage

While inlays and onlays are a common and often preferred treatment for dental decay and other tooth issues such as fractured teeth, insurance carriers with documentation often will cover onlays, but rarely inlays, even though they are a stronger and superior restoration compared to a filling, primarily for cost containment reasons. A member of our staff will contact your insurance provider to help you determine your specific coverage before calculating any out-of-pocket costs. Dr. Heher can customize your treatment with different materials to adhere with your budget. During your consultation, Dr. Heher will also review cost estimates and payment options we accept at our office including medical financing.

Inlays and Onlays

Whether you select an inlay or onlay for your dental needs, it's important to address a decayed or damaged tooth before it becomes a painful and expensive problem. Learn more about inlays and onlays to restore your teeth by scheduling a consultation with Smiles! Dentistry by Dr. Joseph Heher in Salisbury, MD. Dr. Heher and his team are ready to help improve your smile with the best treatment for your dental health needs.

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*Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person. Images other than before and afters photos may contain models.