Everything You Should Know about Inlays and Onlays

Dental restorations are performed using many different techniques. It usually depends on the kind of oral problem you have, and the preferences you have regarding the outcome of your smile after treatment. For tooth decay, for example, treatments range from simple tooth filling procedures to drastic and invasive measures like dental extractions and endodontic surgeries.

If you are scheduled to get dental fillings on your teeth, there are options for you to choose from when it comes to the types of fillings. While many know of porcelain fillings and amalgams, there are inlays and only as that you must learn about before your treatment.

What Are Onlays and Inlays? 

They are types of dental fillings used in restorative dentistry. According to pediatric dentists in Seminole, onlays, and inlays can be used on adults and children alike, since they are similar to traditional dental fillings. However, unlike conventional dental fillings, onlays and inlays are unique.

Inlays are fillings that fill the parts of your tooth inside the cusps thereof. They are created specifically to fit inside the cusps of the damaged teeth where the cavity has caused damage. Ideally, a dentist in Seminole, FL drills out the damaged part of your tooth to create a hollow. The hollow created is the space where the inlay will be fitted, without having to affect the cusps of your teeth.

Onlays, on the other hand, over a much larger surface than inlays. They cover the hollow of your tooth, as well as the cusps of teeth. They work similarly to dental crowns. However, instead of cupping the entire crown of your tooth, a dentist in Largo, FL ensures that the onlays only cover the top part. This is why many people refer to onlays as partial crowns.

Exploring More About Inlays and Onlays

The materials used to make onlays or inlays are not metallic as is the case with typical dental fillings. Instead, they feature porcelain or composite materials. One major advantage of using these materials is that they are tooth-colored. Therefore, patients who visit a dental office in Seminole looking for a cosmetic-friendly treatment can benefit from inlays and onlays.

Inlays are usually employed when a tooth’s cavity is not large enough to merit a traditional dental filling like amalgams. However, onlays are used when the cavity hollow is too large to be filled by a typical dental filling, but not large enough to merit the use of a dental crown. Since the conditions under which inlays and inlays are used are critical, only a dentist near you can fully determine which kind of filling would best suit your filling.

Understanding the Procedure of Installing Onlays and Inlays 

The technique of installing inlays and only as is a lot similar to that of placing a tooth filling. The first step involves numbing your tooth to ensure the process is as painless as possible. Afterward, the dentist attending you will drill your tooth. This step is done to remove the damaged part of your tooth where the cavity is located. The dentist will remove as much of your enamel as is affected by the cavity.

Once the drilling is complete, it leaves a hollow on your tooth. The hole created determines the types of filling the dentist places. Ideally, when the hole is small, inlays are preferred to traditional dental fillings. However, if the hole on your tooth is too big, a traditional dental filling may not do the job effectively, unless with reinforcement from a dental crown. Instead, onlays are used, playing the role of a tooth filling and a partial dental crown.

How Long Do Inlays and Onlays Last?

Like with traditional fillings, onlays and inlays do not last forever. At best, these oral materials can last between 5 and 30 years. Different factors affect the longevity of onlays and inlays, mainly being how well you can for your teeth once you get them. For one, oral hygiene is a big factor that will influence how well your onlays or inlays serve you over the years.


Inlays and onlays are both reliable solutions for treating dental cavities and restoring teeth. Depending on how severe your cavities are, your dentist will direct you on the best filling to use between the two.