The Differences Between Inlays and Onlays

Nov 1, 2012

Inlays and onlays are similar treatments designed to add strength to damaged teeth while restoring their appearance. If you’re looking for a Bridgeport cosmetic dentist, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with DeJesus Dental Group. We can determine if inlays and onlays are the appropriate treatment to restore the health and beauty of your teeth. Here is an overview of the difference between inlays and onlays to help you decide which treatment is right for you.

What Are Inlays?

Inlays are used to treat decay within the cusps. The cusps are the bumpy structures on the biting surface of the back teeth. Inlays can be made of tooth-colored materials like porcelain and composite resin, or, made of gold. The porcelain or composite resin is matched to the surrounding teeth for a seamless blend. Inlay treatment typically requires two dental visits. During the first visit an impression is made of the tooth and then sent to a dental lab for the inlay to be custom-made; in the interim, a temporary inlay will be placed. Once ready, a second dental visit will be needed to bond the permanent inlay to the tooth. Inlays can be used to replace old metal fillings, for a fully restored appearance.

What Are Onlays?

Onlays are similar to inlays in that they are used to treat decay and damage. Inlays and onlays mainly differ in the amount of damage and area treated. Onlays are used when the damage is more extensive, extending to one or more cusps. The cusps, a common area for dental cavities, aid in chewing. Onlays are sometimes called partial crowns due to the extent of coverage that they offer. Like inlays, onlays generally require two dental visits. During the first visit an impression of the damaged tooth is made and sent to a dental lab. A temporary onlay is placed while the permanent onlay is crafted. The onlay will be made from the material of choice: porcelain, composite resin, or gold. When the onlay is completed, another dental visit will be required to secure the onlay to the tooth. Like with inlays, onlays can be used to replace old metal fillings to restore the beauty of your teeth.

Inlays and onlays are very similar. They are both custom-made from porcelain, composite resin, or, less commonly, gold. Inlays and onlays both are used to repair damaged teeth by restoring strength and aesthetics. To recap, here are the differences:

  • Inlays: Inlays are used to treat decay within the cusps and only on the chewing surface of the teeth.
  • Onlays: Onlays are used to treat decay extending to the cusps on the biting surface on the back teeth; they are also called partial crowns.

Schedule a Consultation with DeJesus Dental Group

Inlays and onlays may not be ideal for all situations. For our patients in Bridgeport, dental crowns may be a better option. Dental crowns are also used to restore the strength and appearance of damaged teeth, but are best suited to teeth too damaged for inlays or onlays. We invite you to schedule a consultation with our friendly team to determine which treatment is best for you.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Consult a qualified dental professional to determine the best dental/orthodontic treatment for your needs.