Dental Inlays vs. Onlays

Dental Inlays vs. Onlays

Apr 01, 2020

Dental crowns are a standard option for protecting teeth against decay. It is an option that can help you realize a healthy-looking long lasting smile. If the damage is not significant, you will need a filling, which can be a temporary or full crowning.

These two can be used interchangeably, but inlays are used for more extensive, already prepared cavities. The procedure for application for both is quite similar but differ in the space that’s filled by either.

Unlike standard fillings that are just administered in the first visit, these are cemented to the tooth surface in a second dentistry visit after treatment.

Inlays are administered when the tooth structure being repaired lies within the tip cusps of a tooth. Conversely, onlays will be done when the damage is extensive enough to cover the whole chewing surface on more than one tooth cusp.

Dental Inlays

What is the function of dental inlays?

Dental inlays seek to repair the enamel and cusps exterior of your tooth. They are designed to lessen the damage on the tooth surface. Although many dentists still use metal fillings for inlays, you can ask for the procedure to be done with material matching your tooth color.

Several materials can be used to make inlay, including gold, ceramics, and composite materials. Usually, porcelain and gold models are more longer-lasting than composite substances and amalgam fillings.

Our dentists will offer you a dental restoration that is virtually invisible if you are aware of your initial dental fillings. They can easily replace them with material matching your tooth color.

Procedure for administration

Inlays are created with an exact specification to the tooth under treatment. Our dentists will remove the decayed part of the tooth that’s receiving the inlay. They then send the impression of the tooth to the laboratory. The porcelain is later designed according to your tooth’s shade for a perfect restoration.

Before the permanent inlays get processed, we will give you a temporary restoration. This will enable you to safely chew and use your teeth comfortably before permanent inlays are complete. In your next appointment, our dentistry professionals will make sure that the customized inlays are fitted to perfectly blend with your tooth.

Which is the best material for dental inlays?

Our dentists recommend porcelain inlays to other forms of inlays because:

  • With porcelain inlays, more of your tooth can be preserved
  • They have a more natural look
  • Unlike metal fillings which weaken your teeth, porcelain make your tooth stronger
  • Porcelain is more durable than metallic fillings

Dental Onlays

Onlays are used to treat a much larger area than dental inlays. They are sometimes called partial crowns and can extend to one or more cusps of a tooth, depending on the patient. With onlays, a hole is made in the tooth and the fill material fabricated to fit the exact shape and size of that space.

Often, they are a better option to crown replacement because, with their treatment, more tooth can be saved. Onlays are also less expensive compared to crown replacement. Onlays require particular skills from the dentist if it’s to be done correctly.


Dentists mold impressions of your teeth during your first visit. They are processed in the lab, and you can get a short-term dental onlay before your permanent ones are developed for your tooth protection.

During your next visit, dentists take out the temporary models and replace them with permanent ones, polishing them to ensure they are smooth for an even bite.


Gold is best for back molar onlays. For people with misaligned teeth and who clench their teeth, resin onlays are the best. We use porcelain onlays for the front smiling teeth.

Advantages of Onlays

  • Natural tooth preservation
  • Easy to clean
  • They’re durable and stable
  • Unlikely to discolor
  • They strengthen the tooth

In Summary

It’s important to directly work with your dentist when choosing the right dental inlay or onlay suitable for you.

If you’re interested in learning more about cosmetic dentistry and any other dental treatments we offer, contact us at Dental Impressions today. Our dentists will be happy to give your dental restoration the best impression there is.

773-925-0650 Book an Appointment