Inlays, Onlays, and Fillings: Know the Difference By Dr. John Goodman on April 23, 2020

Illustration of back molars shows an onlayInlays and onlays are pre-formed restorations that replace lost tooth structure following trauma or restorative treatment. Dr. John P. Goodman provides custom inlays and onlays that are aesthetically pleasing and incredibly durable.

Many of our patients have questions about the difference between fillings and pre-formed restorations such as inlays and onlays. They offer similar benefits. Before your restorative treatment at our Kansas City, MO, dental practice, Dr. Goodman will explain which option is a better choice for you. Read on to learn more about inlays and onlays versus fillings.

Pre-formed Restorations or Fillings: Know the Difference

Inlays, onlays, and fillings serve the same basic function through different means. All three restorations fill in lost tooth structure following trauma or a restorative treatment. Inlays and onlays are pre-formed fillings, meaning that they are fabricated before they are placed in your tooth. Fillings refer to composite resin or another base material that is artfully molded to fit inside the missing portion of a tooth before it is hardened.

Which Option Will I Need?

Fillings are a great restorative option when small amounts of tooth structure have been lost or removed. If you are about to have minor or even moderate amounts of tooth decay removed, Dr. Goodman may use natural-looking composite resin to restore your tooth.

If your tooth requires more extensive restoration but not enough for a dental crown (which covers the entire tooth), Dr. Goodman may recommend an inlay or onlay. An inlay is a pre-formed filling that fits within the indented surface of the molars. If your restoration requires that the pre-formed filling covers one or more edges, or cusps, of the tooth, you can be fitted with an onlay.

In some cases, an old filling may be replaced with an inlay or onlay. The pre-formed restorations offer superior support compared to fillings.

How Are These Restorations Placed?

Dr. Goodman will handle every aspect of your restoration at his Kansas City dental practice. For each treatment, your treated tooth will be thoroughly cleaned and then sanitized.


Once your tooth is prepped, the composite resin material can be shade-matched to blend in with the color of your natural teeth. Bits of silica in the resin allow fillings to match the reflective qualities of enamel.

Once Dr. Goodman has artfully molded the fillings in place, a special blue light will be used to harden the resin. Any minor adjustments can be made at that time.

Inlays and Onlays

The treatment timeline for inlays and onlays is around two weeks. During your first visit and following your restorative treatment, Dr. Goodman will clean and sanitize the treatment site. Then, he will make an impression of your tooth before placing a temporary inlay or onlay. The impression will be sent to expert ceramists who will fabricate your inlay or onlay.

In about two weeks, your pre-formed restoration will arrive at our Kansas City dental practice. During your second and final visit, Dr. Goodman will place the pre-formed filling to ensure that it is a great fit before cementing it in place.

Schedule Your Restorative Treatment Today

Inlays, onlays, and fillings are great restorative options that protect your tooth from further dental problems. Depending on your oral health needs, Dr. Goodman can restore your smile using fillings, inlays, onlays, or dental crowns. To schedule your next visit to see Dr. Goodman, please contact our office online or call (816) 842-8585.

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John P. Goodman, DDS

John P. Goodman, DDS We Give Kansas City a Reason to Smile!

Dr. John Goodman has more than two decades of experience serving the community of Kansas City, MO. He offers a comprehensive range of services to address all types of dental problems, and he accepts CareCredit® financing to make treatment as accessible as possible. 

To request a consultation, please fill out our online form or call us at (816) 842-8585.

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"My experience with Dr. John Goodman DDS was outstanding. The entire staff was courteous and very accommodating. Dr. Goodman made me feel very comfortable but also finally gave me hope for having that "beautiful smile" that we (with not so good teeth) always wish for. I left feeling elated and excited for the first time about a dental appointment."

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