Inlays and Onlays

The dental inlay or dental onlay is unique dental restorative technique. Instead of filling a cavity with resin or amalgam by building it up in layers, the complete dental filling is made outside the dental office in the dental lab. Since a cavity is normally filled inside a patient’s mouth, it is considered a direct solution. Inlay and onlays are classified as ‘indirect’ solutions due to the work being completed away from the recipient.

The difference between the two options are; the inlay resides in the area between the 2 teeth cusps, while the onlay resides overlaps only one of the cusps. The inlay is considered less work so it is less costly.

Both techniques will fit the cavity area in a very precise manner, once cemented in place. An inlay or onlay option may be recommended when a molar or premolar is too damaged for a filling or filling replacement, but not damaged enough to go to the crown stage. A crown is actually just a very large onlay, as it would now cover the entire tooth instead of a portion like the inlay or onlay.

An inlay or onlay could be made out of ceramic, gold or porcelain giving patients many years of excellent service. Dental replacement recommendations in order of damage are; filling, inlay, onlay, crown, and then the implant.