Difference Between Inlay and Onlay in Dentistry

dental inlay and onlay

You have probably been advised by your dentist to get a crown or a filling to cover up your dental decay or cavities. However, you may not have heard of some other options, like dental onlays and inlays.

Generally, fillings are used to fill minor cavities, while crowns are used when there is a considerable fracture that needs to be covered up. But, there may be scenarios when a crown is too much to cover up tooth decay, or a filling is too small for the same. Dental onlays and inlays are what many dentists will use if they require something “Just right” to cover those gaps in your teeth. They are more sizeable than fillings, but not much intrusive like crowns, which may call for the reshaping of your tooth in some way. In this post, we will explain the difference between dental inlay and onlay to make sure that you have a thorough understanding of the two oral care options.

What are Dental Inlays and Onlays?

In dentistry, onlays and inlays are regarded as “Indirect Fillings” meaning that they are placed outside the mouth as a solid piece that fits the particular shape and size of the cavity.

Onlays and Inlays are used in premolars or molars, when the tooth has experienced excess damage to support a simple filling, but not too much damage that a crown will be needed. The critical contrast between them is the amount and part of the tooth they cover.

Dental inlays and onlays are made from tooth-like material called porcelain, which improves the aesthetic value for the patient. However, in recent years onlays and inlays have been made from ceramic materials.

Dental inlays are fitted and molded in the chewing area of your tooth that has been damaged through injury or decay. On the other hand, onlays are used for damage and deterioration to the cusps of your tooth as well as the biting surface.
difference between dental inlay and onlay

Learn the Difference between Dental Inlays and Onlays

Inlays Repairs Your Tooth’s Surface

Inlays are designed to reduce the damage to the surface of your tooth. They can be used when there is damage or decay within the cusps of your teeth. Dentists have various materials they can use to produce the inlays, including gold, composite resins, and ceramics. Composite resins can be matched to the color of your teeth to attain the ideal aesthetics.

The significant difference between dental inlays and onlays is that an onlay will cover a larger area than an inlay. On the other hand, an onlay will cover the cusps of your tooth while an inlay only covers the region between the cusps.

Onlays Repairs Large Areas

Sometimes it is called a partial crown; onlays are applied to treat large areas. Unlike inlays, Onlays are used on the biting surface and can be extended to cusps across your tooth, as requested by the patient. Just like inlays, onlays can be designed from ceramics, gold, or composite resins, as every material provides excellent durability for the patient. Using an onlay is regarded as an alternative to crowns since this treatment helps to save more teeth than the conventional crown placement procedure.

Dental Inlay vs. Filling

The Dental Inlay vs. Filling: What’s the Difference?

In theory, the two terms are used interchangeably, but inlays are designed for larger cavities. The two options involve removing an existing cavity using a drill and covering that empty space, but the technique used to fill that space is where they differ. With a filling, composite material or amalgam is used to cover the area, and it is a quicker process that can be performed in one single appointment.

With an inlay, space is covered with a single piece that is generally fabricated in a lab, although they can be designed in a dental office and are typically made using ceramic or gold. The inlay must be designed precisely to the shape and size of the space; otherwise, bacteria and food will enter that space, leading to decay further.

One significant advantage of inlays is that they don’t contract to the same magnitude as a filling, so there are lower chances of restoration failing for that reason. Inlays are also theoretically more durable than fillings, and this makes them more reliable in the long term.

Dental Onlay vs. Crowns

A dental crown will cover the whole biting surface of your tooth as the tooth structure above your gum line. Compared to a crown, a dental onlay is a less aggressive procedure as only a small part of your tooth structure needs to be removed to place an onlay.

Book an Appointment with Your Dentist Today

When considering dental Onlays and inlays, it is crucial to work with a qualified dentist and select a product that is right for your dental health needs. Dr. Fitzgerald is an experienced cosmetic dentist who is available now to answer any your questions and guide you into attaining great results from your onlay and inlay treatments. Book an appointment with Dr. Fitzgerald for quality dental treatments today!