Porcelain Inlays & Onlays in Oakton, Vienna, McLean VA

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In the days before modern dentistry, people had one choice of material for fillings: metal amalgam. At Softouch Dental Care, we do not offer metal fillings because we feel they pose too much possible risk. Metal amalgam contains about 50% mercury, which is a known poison. In many countries it has been banned.

There is ongoing controversy as to the degree of risk posed by the mercury in tooth fillings, and the jury is still out. But we prefer not to put our patients at any potential risk and instead offer porcelain inlays and onlays or dental bonding as the materials for filling teeth.


Inlays and onlays are covers for the pointed edges of your teeth, called cusps. They are similar to crowns, but rather than covering the entire tooth, they only provide coverage for the interior or top. Inlays are placed inside the tooth to cover the space that a filling would; overlays can expand over one or more cusps, but they do not go over the sides of the tooth.

Porcelain is a well-loved material in dental restorations because it is long-lasting, non-toxic, and biocompatible. This means that it can function harmoniously with your body without causing any allergic reactions or complications.

Say Goodbye to Fractured Fillings

With porcelain inlays and onlays, Dr. Chung can conservatively repair teeth and deliver durable results. Rather than worrying about broken cavity filings, you can protect your teeth and improve comfort and function.

Porcelain inlays and onlays are highly durable; they last 20 to 30 years with routine dental care and good oral hygiene.


An inlay fills a smaller cavity contained within the tooth’s cusps. An onlay is larger, extending over the cusps to an outside surface. An onlay is somewhere between a filling and a tooth crown.

What is Dental Porcelain?

Dental porcelain is a tooth-colored, hard, brittle substance and it is partly translucent. That is, it both absorbs light and reflects it. Tooth enamel is also partly translucent, and this is what makes porcelain restorations so similar-looking to enamel. They have that same pearly-white shine.

When you have an inlay or onlay, the exact shade of porcelain is chosen to match your natural teeth. The procedure is much the same as having a traditional filling, except that it takes two visits. This is because the filling will be custom-made in a dental lab. In the second visit, Dr. Chung will fit it in place like a perfect little puzzle piece and bond it to your tooth.

By being bonded to your tooth, the inlay or onlay strengthens and prolongs the tooth's life. A metal filling is packed into the cavity and exerts outward pressure against it. This can weaken the tooth and eventually even break it.

Advantages of Dental Porcelain

  • It shines white like natural teeth
  • It is stain resistant like glass
  • It is strong and durable
  • Inlays and onlays strengthen the tooth by being bonded to it
  • It needs only the same care you would give your teeth

What dental conditions can Inlays and Onlays treat?

Dental inlays and onlays are similar to fillings. They are made when tooth decay has damaged part of a tooth. While the most common use for inlays and onlays is to repair a tooth that has sustained a fair amount of damage due to a cavity, these restorations are also sometimes recommended when an existing filling needs to be replaced.

Can Porcelain Inlays or Onlays be whitened?

No. Dental porcelain does not whiten with the use of a bleaching agent. The dentist selects the shade of an inlay or onlay to match the surrounding enamel. While this may not be an issue for the average inlay, some patients may want to consider whitening their teeth before receiving an onlay. Depending on where the restoration will sit in the mouth, the color of the onlay may be visible over the cusp of a tooth.

If you plan on whitening your teeth after getting inlays or onlays, then you should consider asking the dentist to color-match the treatment based on your target shade. You may also whiten your teeth beforehand so you can receive a treatment that matches your lighter enamel.

In many cases, the inlays or onlays are only visible when looking at the interior of the mouth, so there is no reason to worry about undergoing teeth whitening beforehand.

An exception to this may be in cases where patients have significant stains or yellowing of the enamel and they intend to lighten their teeth dramatically. They may benefit from cosmetic treatment before placement of the onlay.

Are there any food restrictions after getting Dental Inlays or Onlays?

Patients who receive an inlay or onlay should avoid eating sticky, chewy, crunchy, or hard foods for 24 hours. After that time, one may resume their normal eating habits. The teeth may feel slightly sensitive to hot or cold for a short time. This minor side effect can last up to a few weeks, but should gradually subside over time.

Who is a good candidate for Porcelain Inlays or Onlays?

Patients with a tooth that is too damaged for optimal repair with a standard dental filling may be good candidates for an inlay or onlay. Conversely, inlays and onlays are limited to moderate tooth repair. A patient must have sufficient tooth structure left after removing decay to support the restoration. If the tooth is too badly damaged, a crown is a better option for long-term repair.

How long will Porcelain Inlays or Onlays last?

An inlay or onlay can last decades. On the flip side, this restoration may last only 5 to 10 years in some instances. It is difficult to predict how long a given restoration will last because they may wear down or fail for several reasons. Some restorations endure more wear and tear than others due to a patient’s bite or due to habits like grinding the teeth.

One of the biggest factors in the lifespan of a dental inlay or onlay is oral care. Dental restorations tend to last longer when a patient brushes their teeth twice a day and flosses daily, too. People who avoid biting or chewing on hard objects or foods like ice can also see their inlays or onlays last longer.

Should I Get Inlays or Onlays or a Crown?

Inlays and onlays are partial crowns, and they offer great protection against bacteria and can effectively preserve a tooth impacted by decay.

Full dental crowns are better options for patients with significant decay, cracked or chipped teeth, or a previous history of failed fillings and root canals.

How long does it take to get Inlays or Onlays implemented?

It typically takes two appointments to complete the inlay or onlay process. The first appointment may take 60 to 90 minutes. During this visit, the dentist removes the decayed enamel from the tooth. Then, putty material is placed over the tooth to make an impression to send to the dental lab. Finally, the dentist creates a temporary restoration to fit over the tooth while the final restoration is being made. The second appointment is usually scheduled about two weeks after the first, during which the temporary restoration is removed, the tooth is cleaned, and the inlay or onlay is bonded into place. The dentist will check the bite to ensure the restoration is properly shaped and, if needed, will make immediate revisions.

Find out about our tooth-colored restorations by calling 703-319-6990 to schedule an initial consultation at Softouch Dental Care today.

Schedule A Consultation

Ready to book an appointment with a dentist in Oakton, VA? Please contact us today!


What Happens in a Consultation?

  • 01.

    Get to know Dr. Chung.

  • 02.

    Help him understand you and your goals.

  • 03.

    Learn about his services and specialties.

“Dr. Chung is the best, he has cared for me for over 15 years. He is always available. He has been attentive and taken care of all my issues before they were painful or bad. He has helped me with a good program for taking care of my teeth and they are beautiful. I receive complements about my pretty teeth and smile. The staff is attentive to detail they have prevented the things we dread. I have great respect for his care and his opinions and so happy to have found him.”

– Patricia Debearn

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Location Map: 2946 Chain Bridge Road Oakton, VA 22124

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