Restoring teeth with inlays and partial crowns

If a tooth is damaged by decay, all-ceramic inlays or, in the case of larger defects, onlays or partial crowns can replace the lost tooth substance.

The choice of tooth fillings depends on one hand on the size of the decay, but also on your preferences. We will decide together which option is the right one for you after a thorough discussion of the pros and cons. We will also inform you about any related costs in advance. You will have all the information you need before making a decision. 


For larger defects that can no longer be filled with composite (white) fillings, all-ceramic inlays should be used. In preperation the teeth are either digitally molded using photography or conventionally molded with an impression after decay is removed.

In our dental laboratory we then prepare the inlays and can cement them after seven to ten days. In the meantime we provide temporary fittings. In order to bond ceramic inlays, we first put a protective dental dam (rubber dam) around the tooth to keep saliva out.

All-ceramic inlays impress with their perfect aesthetics and are virtually indistinguishable from natural teeth. The material is characterised by its colour adjustability and high biocompatibility. Furthermore, due to the properties of ceramic, temperature stimuli are not transfered to the tooth nerve. Because of its darker color, gold inlays are nowadays only used with patients with serious teeth grinding.

Partial crowns 

Large defects of the hard tooth substance, such as those that occur after the treatment of large cavities or after accidents, cannot be fixed with inlays. This is because the tooth should be surrounded by an intact and stable biting surface. In this case, we use partial crowns, also known as onlays.

In contrast to a complete crown, a partial crown does not cover the entire tooth but replaces only partial areas of the dental crown. This protects the remaining hard tooth substance. They are particularly suitable for the treatment of medium and large defects in which sufficient healthy tooth substance is still present. Modern ceramic partial crowns not only meet the highest standards of aesthetics, bite and durability, but are also very well tolerated biologocally.

After removing the decay and preparing the tooth, we take either a digital or conventional impression. In our master dental laboratory we then manufacture the partial crown for you individually and can bond it to the tooth after seven to 10 days. In the meantime we fit the prepared teeth with temporaries.

Ceramic onlays or partial crowns are specially bonded to the tooth much like inlays, using extremely strong adhesive cements. For this purpose we first put a protective dental dam around the tooth to keep saliva out. Gold partial crowns are cemented in place. Since gold onlays appear darker they are more likely to be used in the molar area and in patients who grind their teeth heavily.

How long do inlays and partial crowns last?

All-ceramic inlays, partial crowns and gold inlays and partial crowns have an average lifespan of 20 years. The latest scientific study provides us with a survival rate of 86% after 18 years (Reiss et. al. 2006). The durability is also dependent on the location and size. In addition, your oral hygiene has a decisive influence on the lifespan. For proper care, use floss or interdental brushes. We are happy to give you dental tips in person during your check-up or hygiene appointment.

Restoring teeth with partial crowns: a clinical case with Dr Mehl

What to choose - fillings, inlays, partial crowns or crowns? In the following video Dr. Mehl explains which option there are for partially compromised teeth. 

More questions?

Find answers to the most frequently asked ones below, or contact us for a personal consultation.


FAQs: Saving Teeth

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