Dental Blog

What are Inlays and Onlays?

What are Inlays and Onlays?

300 300 Macatawa Smiles

inlays and onlays dentist holland mi

Is your tooth cracked, chipped, or damaged? You may need a dental restoration to repair your tooth. At Macatawa Smiles, we offer multiple tooth restorations for patients with damaged or broken teeth, including inlays and onlays.

Inlays and Onlays Defined

We often speak of inlays and onlays as a pair since they follow similar processes. However, inlays and onlays are not identical. Inlays sit in the center of the tooth, while onlays cover the top to restore the chewing surface.

Our dentist can use inlays and onlays to restore your tooth after cavity, infection, or injury. We can determine whether an inlay or an onlay is best for your tooth.

Fillings vs. Inlays and Onlays

Inlays and onlays are similar to tooth fillings in that they can fill a hole or crack in a damaged tooth. However, unlike fillings, inlays and onlays aren’t applied directly to your tooth. Instead, they’re crafted by our dentist or a lab and then bonded to your tooth.

Additionally, inlays and onlays can often restore a tooth more strongly than a filling, especially if your tooth damage is too large. Fillings can weaken your tooth if there is not enough existing tooth structure remaining to support the filling. With onlays in particular, we can restore your tooth’s natural strength.

Dental Crowns vs. Inlays and Onlays

A dental crown is another form of tooth restoration we offer at our office. Dental crowns cover the visible portion of the damaged tooth above the gumline. They restore both the appearance and the function of your tooth.

Dental crowns are similar to inlays and onlays in that they are both custom-made for patients beforehand instead of being applied directly to the tooth itself. At Macatawa Smiles, we’re proud to offer CEREC same-day crowns so we can place dental crowns for patients in a single visit. Instead of waiting for an outside lab, we can make your dental crown in our office.

However, in order to place a dental crown, our dentist has to remove some of your natural tooth enamel. While this doesn’t hurt your tooth because we’re covering it with a crown, we prefer to avoid removing tooth enamel when we can because it doesn’t grow back. Unless covered with a crown or another restoration, a tooth that has lost some of its enamel may be more vulnerable to cavities.

Inlays and onlays require some tooth enamel removal, but they don’t require as much as dental crowns. With inlays and onlays, we can restore your tooth, save your enamel, and protect your tooth from cavities.

How It Works

First, our dentist will remove the decay from your affected tooth. Next, we will create the custom restoration specifically for your tooth or have a lab create it. Finally, we’ll bond your inlay or onlay permanently to your tooth, allowing you to eat and speak normally once again.

You can take care of your inlay or onlay the same way you would take care of your natural teeth. By brushing for two minutes twice a day, flossing daily, and getting a professional teeth cleaning every six months, your restoration should last for years to come.

Restore Your Smile with Inlays and Onlays

Our Holland, MI, restorative dentist uses inlays and onlays to restore our patients’ smiles. Call Macatawa Smiles today at (616) 396-7524, or contact us online to make an appointment.


Dear Patient Family,

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for all of us. Many of you have been forced to wait for dental care and we appreciate your understanding while we kept our office closed to follow orders from the Governor's Office.

We are happy to say that we are opening our office for all patient treatment on June 1st, 2020. Our hours of operation will go back to normal, Monday-Thursday 8am - 5pm. We want you to know that there will be some changes at your next appointment. Please be patient with us as our protocols will inevitably change as new guidelines are released.

  • We ask that you use our parking lot as the waiting room.
  • Please wear a mask when you come into the office and leave it on until entering the treatment room. Homemade is acceptable.
  • Only the person receiving treatment should come in the building, all others will be asked to wait in the car if at all possible. The exception will be for our minor patients who may have one parent accompany them.
  • We will be asking you some questions when you arrive at the office and we will also be taking your temperature.
  • We will not be able to offer magazines, drinks, or toys at this time as they cannot be disinfected to our standards. Eventually this will change and we will be happy to offer our amenities once again.

These changes have been made to adhere to the latest CDC guidelines and for the benefit of our patients and our staff. We want you to know that our office has always taken the safety of our patients very seriously and that we will continue to follow the highest levels of sterilization and disinfection to keep you protected. If you would like more information on what measures we have taken we would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

We cannot say how excited we are to see all of our patients again and to provide for their dental needs. We look forward to seeing all of your smiling faces soon!

Dr. Habecker and Team