Inlays and Onlays

All You Need to Know about Inlays
and Onlays

We use “dental restorations” to restore a missing part of your tooth. Fillings can be placed directly in your mouth or fabricated at a dental laboratory before placing them in the mouth.

Dental restorations made in the mouth are called “indirect restorations”. Dentists must use these when a large part of the tooth is missing or if the remaining tooth is weakened. Common types of indirect restorations are inlays, onlays and crowns. These typically require one or two visits to the dentist.

  1. Inlays are made to fit into a large cavity that is so extensive that having a normal composite filling would not be able to withstand the structural integrity of the restored tooth and/or may provide substandard opposition to occlusal (i.e. biting) forces.
  2. Onlays are similar to inlays, except they also include the tooth cusp (the raised points on the top of the tooth) and cover the top of the biting surface. 
  3. Crowns are “caps” that fit over an existing tooth and cover everything visible above the gum. 

Here, we will be discussing inlays and onlays in detail. Find out more about crowns here.

Some facts about inlays and onlays:

  • They are also referred to as indirect porcelain dental restoration. 
  • They are a tooth-like material made of porcelain.
  • They are used when large fillings are needed. A regular filling is not enough to withhold the damage, but not to the extent where a dental crown is necessary. 
  • Onlays and inlays can be used in premolar or molars.
  • They are both cemented into the gap of the tooth.
  • One significant difference between onlays and inlays is the size of the tooth they cover.

What are the other differences between Inlays and Onlays?

Inlays repairs your tooth’s surface

Inlays are designed to reduce damage to the surface of your tooth.  

When there is damage or decay within your teeth’ cusps, Inlay is the one for you! There are different materials used for inlays which include gold, composite resins, and ceramics. You may like to know that composite resins can be matched to the colour of your teeth to attain the ideal aesthetics.

Onlays repairs larger areas

As stated above, one of the significant differences between dental inlays and onlays is that an onlay covers a larger area than an inlay. An onlay covers the cusps of your tooth, while an inlay only covers the region between the cusps.

Onlays are also known as partial crowns.

Onlays are used on the biting surface. They can be extended to cusps across your tooth, as requested by the patient. Like inlays, onlays can be designed using ceramics, gold, or composite resins. Each of these materials provides excellent durability for the patient.

Using technology to expedite the process of inlays and onlays

These days, tooth restorations such as inlays and onlays can be completed in one visit with CEREC technology. CEREC is a technology that creates a digital impression that helps make precise and aesthetic ceramic restorations. Ask your dentist about this procedure and discuss if it’s a suitable option for you. 

The benefits of using CEREC technology

  • We take a digital impression instead of a traditional one.
  • Restorations can be in one session instead of two.
  • Temporary fillings and crowns aren’t required.
  • This procedure is metal-free
  • The look and finish is more aesthetic. 
  • It is more long-lasting.

I want to discuss more about inlays and onlays!