If you’re reading this, your dentist may have recommended dental inlays or onlays. If you’ve never needed this before, you might not grasp the distinction.

Before having dental care, you should be aware of what it comprises and how it will affect your oral health.

Understanding Dental Inlays

An inlay is a tooth-shaped component used by your dentist to replace the surface of a tooth. Inlays are glued to teeth that have been carefully cleansed and disinfected.

Inlays are created in a laboratory using porcelain, gold, or metal. Porcelain inlays are the most durable and least expensive option. Gold inlays are also durable, but they are more expensive than porcelain inlays. Metal inlays are less expensive than porcelain or gold inlays and can be utilized if porcelain or gold cannot be afforded.

Nowadays, there are direct and indirect inlays. Both fit over existing teeth without the need for filing or trimming. It can be attached in-office or in a dental laboratory.

When a tooth is too damaged for a direct inlay, indirect inlays are employed. Indirect inlays necessitate greater material for tooth support.

Direct inlays require less tooth preparation, making them a better choice for natural teeth. Direct inlays have a surface that has been etched to mimic existing enamel in order to aid bonding with dental cement or inlays cement.

Inlays typically last 15 years, although they can endure up to 30 years or more. Inlays should be made using pricey materials. Spending more equals living longer.

Because an inlay is custom-made, it is more expensive than a filling, but it is more cost-effective in the long run because it is durable and your dentist will not need to make regular repairs or replacements.

Understanding Dental Onlays

Onlays are larger and constructed differently than inlays, but they are otherwise identical. Onlays cover the entire tooth, whereas inlays just cover a portion. They are constructed of porcelain, composite material, resin, or gold.

Onlays are used to repair dental decay as well as damaged cusps and biting surfaces. Onlays are utilized when a standard filling is insufficient to treat the damage. Onlays are placed before a root canal.

Onlays are manufactured in the same way that inlays are. Damaged areas are covered with temporary onlays until a permanent one can be installed. A partial crown is referred to as an onlay.

Onlays are less durable than inlays since they are more difficult to adhere to and suffer more wear and tear. Onlays lasts between 10 and 15 years. Proper maintenance and care can extend their life.

Dental Inlays and Onlays: In Comparison

Inlays and onlays differ in how they cover the mouth. Inlays are less extensive than onlays, which can cover up to three-quarters of a tooth. As a result, onlays may appear longer.

Onlays are a less intrusive alternative to crowns and offer improved tooth protection. Onlays, according to some dentists, are more difficult to place than crowns. The bulk of your teeth is protected by onlays.

Because of their increased surface area coverage, inlays outperform fillings. Inlays strengthen teeth when they expand, whereas fillings might weaken them.

Both inlays and onlays have advantages and disadvantages, such as

The Advantages:

  • Inlays and onlays protect teeth against future deterioration.
  • Inlays and onlays are color-matched to your teeth.
  • Inlays and onlays, with adequate care, will outlast the majority of dental restorations.

The Disadvantages:

  • Inlays and onlays provide good value for money.
  • It is virtually always necessary to return after the initial appointment.


Now that you understand more about dental inlays and onlays, you have a better grasp of the differences between them. In case you have more questions, make sure to ask your trusted dentist to provide you with further information that you will need it for your dental needs.

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