Dental Inlays and Onlays – What is the Difference?


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Dental inlays and onlays are considered to be a unique type of dental procedure that is integral to the restoration of decayed or damaged teeth. Best of all, inlays and onlays will ultimately strengthen teeth and make them less susceptible to staining, decay or damage. Most notably, this type of dental work is more conservative in nature as compared to a dental crown because it does not require the removal healthy tooth structure. As such, the procedure of placing either inlays or onlays is considered to be minimally invasive cosmetic dentistry. Note that inlays as well as onlays are fabricated in a dental lab and then carefully fitted and bonded to the patient’s tooth.


Tooth Structure

 Tooth Structure 

The main difference between inlays and onlays is that while both are custom crafted in a lab before being bonded to the patient’s tooth, it is the amount of tooth structure that the dentist has to work with. While an inlay will fit within the grooves found between the cusps of the tooth, an onlay not only fits within the grooves but it also wraps up and over the cusps covering a greater surface area of the tooth. Onlays become more important when there is substantial damage that is more extensive in nature involved with the tooth being restored. In essence, onlays are intended to cover the entire chewing surface.


Decayed or Damaged

 Decayed or Damaged 

Those having this type of procedure performed can expect to have it completed in only two dental visits. The first visit typically involves the preparation of the tooth. This includes the removal of any decayed or damaged portion of the tooth. Your dental care provider will use a dental laser, drill or some other type of air abrasion device to remove a minimal amount of tooth material. Once damaged or decayed tooth material has been removed a mold of the tooth is taken and delivered to the lab so that custom crafting can begin. Materials used in the manufacturing of inlays and onlays can include everything from porcelain to even gold or various types of resin materials. Contact your dentist in Walnut Creek, Dr. Darvishzadeh at Walnut Creek Dental today for more information about dental inlays and onlays.


[1] The Differences Between Inlays and Onlays
[2] Porcelain Inlays – The Advantages

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