Dental Inlays vs Onlays: What’s the Difference and Which Is Right For You?

January 23, 2023
Cosmetic Dentistry

Dental onlays and inlays are two types of cosmetic dentistry procedures that can be used to help enhance the appearance of your smile. But what is the difference between onlays and inlays, and which is right for you? This article will provide a comprehensive overview of onlays vs. inlays so you can decide which option may be best for you.

What Are Onlays & Inlays?

Onlays and inlays are restorations created by a dental laboratory that fit over or into teeth to help restore their original shape and functionality. Onlays cover more surface area than inlay restorations, typically extending over one or more cusps on top of a tooth. Inlays, on the other hand, fit into the center of a tooth without covering any of its cusps.

Materials Used for Onlay & Inlay Restorations

Onlays and inlays are made from different materials, including porcelain, composite resin, and gold. Porcelain onlays and inlays are highly popular due to their natural-looking results. These restorations can be matched to the exact color of your tooth so that it blends seamlessly with your smile. Composite resin onlays and inlays provide an affordable alternative but may not be as durable as porcelain. Gold onlays and inlays are rarely used due to their high cost and visible appearance, but they offer a very strong, long-lasting restoration.

Cost of Onlay & Inlay Restorations

The cost of onlay and inlay restorations varies depending on the material used and your case’s complexity. Porcelain onlays tend to be more expensive than composite onlays, while gold onlays can be several times more costly than either option. It’s important to discuss all your options with your dentist so you can choose the best material for your budget and lifestyle.

Advantages & Disadvantages

Onlays and inlays offer several advantages, such as a natural-looking appearance and long-lasting results. Porcelain onlays are especially popular due to their ability to match your teeth’ exact color. However, onlay and inlay restorations can take several weeks to complete and may require more than one appointment with your dentist.

Process of Getting Onlays & Inlays

Getting onlay and inlay restorations begins with an examination from your dentist. They will assess the condition of your tooth and determine whether onlay or inlay treatment is best suited for your needs. The next step is to prepare the tooth for onlay or inlay treatment. It involves removing any decay and shaping the tooth to accommodate the restoration.

Taking Impressions of Your Teeth

Once your tooth has been prepared, your dentist will take an impression of your teeth to create a model of the onlay or inlay restoration. The impression is sent to a dental laboratory where technicians craft the onlay or inlay to fit on top of or within your tooth.

Fitting & Placing Onlays & Inlays

When the onlay or inlay is ready, you’ll need to return to your dentist’s office for a second appointment. During this appointment, your dentist will check the onlay or inlay to ensure that it fits correctly on top of or within your tooth. If everything looks good, they’ll place the onlay or inlay on the top of your tooth and make any necessary adjustments.

Caring for Your Onlays & Inlays

Once the onlay or inlay has been placed on top of your tooth, you’ll need to take special care to keep it clean and free from decay. It means brushing and flossing regularly and attending regular dental check-ups to ensure that your onlays and inlays remain healthy and free from damage.

Final Words

Onlays and inlays are an effective way to restore the structure of a damaged or decayed tooth. While onlays and inlays can be made from several different materials, porcelain onlays and inlays tend to be the most popular due to their natural-looking appearance. Getting onlay or inlay treatment typically involves two appointments with your dentist—one to prepare the tooth and take impressions and another to place the onlay or inlay on the top of your tooth. Taking good care of your onlays and inlays is key to keeping them healthy for many years.

1. What is the difference between an onlay & an inlay?

An onlay is a dental restoration that covers one or more cusps on the tooth’s chewing surface. On the other hand, an inlay fits within the cusps on the tooth’s chewing surface and does not cover any part of them.

2. What are onlays & inlays made out of?

Onlays and inlays can be made from different materials, such as porcelain, composite resin, gold, and ceramic. Your dentist will help you decide which material best suits your needs.

3. How long do onlay & inlay treatments last?

Onlay and inlay treatments typically last between 5-15 years. The longevity of your onlay or inlay will depend on how well you take care of it and whether or not you experience any further tooth decay or damage.