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How Are Inlays and Onlays Different?

Posted on 2/20/2020 by Giri Palani
How Are Inlays and Onlays Different?
If we have talked with you about the various kinds of dental reconstructions, you have probably heard us talk about fillings, caps, crowns, inlays, and onlays.

While most people quickly understand what a filling and a crown are, not so many can distinguish between an inlay and an onlay. If that sounds like you, here is some more information to help clear things up.


In short, an inlay is quite similar to a filling. It is a piece of material that is inserted into a hole in the tooth. However, inlays tend to be larger than fillings, and they are constructed out of a single piece of material. They are fitted into the tooth, and then we use a special adhesive to cement them in and prevent failure of the reconstruction.


Onlays tend to be used for more superficial (or surface) damage than inlays are. Whereas an inlay goes inside the tooth, an onlay goes over the top of it. In a sense, an onlay is similar to a crown in that it is placed over a damaged tooth and covers the affected area.

However, an onlay is different from a crown in that it usually does not cover as much of the tooth. A crown will often cover the entire tooth; an onlay will only cover a portion of it. Further, an onlay will usually be more effective in a situation where the damage to the tooth is not as severe. Serious tooth damage will usually require a crown rather than an onlay.

If you have any questions about the difference between an onlay and an inlay, please don't hesitate to ask us. Pick up the phone and give us a call today. We are here to help you, and we look forward to speaking with you!

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