Inlays and onlays are dental restorations that are used to fill in areas of decay or damage in a tooth. Rather than using a dental filling or a crown, inlays and onlays are a better option for patients seeking reinforcement applied precisely to the affected area of the tooth. This is most appropriate when the patient needs treatment for an area larger than a standard filling can cover but smaller than what would require a full crown. This offers the right amount of strength while preserving more of the natural tooth structure.
Both inlays and onlays are custom-made to fit the patient’s affected tooth and are then bonded in place. There are a few main differences between inlays and onlays:
- Inlays are generally used for teeth that have damage or decay on the center chewing surface of the tooth, between the cusps.
- Onlays are used when damage or decay extends over one or more cusps along the tooth surface.