Understanding the Differences Between Onlay and Inlay Dental Restorations

Cavities are not uncommon. Around 90% of adults have had at least one, and many kids also have them.

Once you have one, you’ll need to get it fixed. But dentists fix cavities in many ways, including with onlays and inlays.

Do you know the difference between an onlay vs. inlay? Do you even know what these are?

Keep reading to learn what onlays and inlays are and their differences.

Purposes of Onlays and Inlays

Cavities occur from bacteria and plaque found on teeth. If left unaddressed, the tooth decay consumes more of the tooth. That’s why treating the problem is important.

A cavity can occur on the top of a tooth or the sides. It can also affect the tooth cusps. Tooth cusps are parts of teeth that project from the tooth. Molars tend to have four, while premolars have two.

Dentists use porcelain onlays and inlays to restore teeth with cavities. However, they’re different than fillings.

A dentist places a moldable material in a tooth when completing a dental filling. When performing onlays and inlays, the dentist creates the onlay or inlay first. Then, they place it in the tooth.

Onlays and inlays are premade to fit perfectly into a specific tooth.

Onlay vs. Inlay: Key Differences

Dentists make dental restorations with onlays and inlays. But they use them for different purposes.

Inlays are smaller than onlays. Dentists use them when there is decay or damage to the tooth’s cusps. They create the inlay to fit into the tooth, restoring it to its natural size and strength.

Onlays cover a larger portion of the tooth. They can cover the cusps, but they also cover the tooth’s biting area.

Dental clinics must measure the tooth and make molds before creating onlays and inlays. Many do this electronically. This method is easier and creates a perfect fit.

Many dentists can also perform these procedures with laser dentistry services.

Alternatives to Onlays and Inlays

Onlays and inlays save teeth, but they’re not the only option for decay. Dentists can sometimes use regular white fillings after removing decay.

Dentists also use dental crowns when the decay covers too much of a tooth’s surface.

Your dentist might explain your options and recommend the best one for your tooth.

The best option is to prevent decay. You can follow these four dental hygiene tips to keep your teeth healthier. If you can prevent decay, you won’t need fillings, inlays, or onlays.

Need Dental Services?

As you can see, onlays and inlays have some similarities. The primary difference between an onlay vs. an inlay is their size.

Cavities are common, but you shouldn’t ignore them. They damage teeth and spread, so seek help as soon as you discover a problem.

When you need dental work, you need a dentist you can trust. Our office is dedicated to providing high-quality dental work while using the most advanced technological dental equipment.

We’d love to hear from you! Call us today to schedule an appointment. Our office is conveniently located in Redlands, CA.