Fillings, Inlays and Onlays

You may consider a filling if you have a cavity or chipped or broken tooth. At Half Moon Bay Family Dentistry, we offer many options for repairing your teeth. Our dentists will discuss the differences between fillings, inlays, and onlays and explain the best option for restoring your damaged tooth.

Hygienist explaining how dental fillings work.

What Is a Filling?

Fillings are one of the most common dental services we provide. At Half Moon Bay Family Dentistry, we use natural-looking composite resin, often called white fillings, to restore decayed teeth. Composite fillings require removing less tooth structure, allowing it to retain more strength.

Tooth-colored fillings are simple, routine procedures. Our dentists will use a local anesthetic to numb the area before removing any decay with a dental drill. Once the decay is removed, we’ll choose a material that matches your tooth color and place it into the hole. This process restores the appearance and function of your tooth.

3d render of an inlay filling on a tooth

What Is an Inlay?

An inlay fills a portion of your tooth larger than a standard dental filling. Typically, it covers an area between the teeth cusps. Because they are larger, inlays are custom-created to fit securely within the portion of your tooth removed by our dentist.

The material used for an inlay is often more durable than composite resin. It prevents further decay by keeping food and other bacteria from getting underneath the filling.

3d render of an onlay filling.

What Is an Onlay?

An onlay protects tooth structure when one or more cusps of your tooth are involved in the restoration. If the middle and side of your tooth show signs of decay, an onlay may be your best option because it is designed to cover a larger area of your tooth than a filling or inlay. However, unlike dental crowns, onlays do not cover the entire tooth.

Modern techniques allow us to create your onlay with tooth-colored materials, like porcelain. But other materials, such as gold, may be used. Regardless of the material used, we will place it after we remove the decay from your tooth. An onlay is bonded to your teeth, helping them withstand pressure from chewing or grinding.

Primary Difference Between Fillings, Inlays, and Onlays

Understanding the differences between these three dental procedures can be a challenge. But it comes down to a few key factors.

Onlays generally cover a cusp, while inlays fill a more extensive hole between these bumps. Like white fillings, composite inlays and onlays will be designed to match your natural tooth color.

Some materials may require multiple visits to our Coastside dental office in Half Moon Bay. However, a filling is generally completed in one visit to restore a smaller area of decay. While fillings are very durable, the materials used to create an inlay or onlay are even sturdier and are less likely to require replacement.

Location & Hours

Half Moon Bay

780 Purissima St. Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
(650) 726-2156
8:30 - 5:00
8:00 - 5:00
8:30 - 5:00
8:00 - 5:00
Friday & Saturday
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