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Inlays and Onlays Inlays and Onlays
Inlays and Onlays

Inlays and Onlays

An inlay is a method that replaces lost tooth structure. It is bonded in the tooth and prepared in the laboratory.

An inlay is placed between the cusp tips of your tooth and typically restores the area between your teeth. On the other hand, an onlay covers anywhere from one cusp tip to the entire biting surface but not all the way around to the base of the tooth. These restorations appear like composite fillings, though they are prepared in the same way as a crown. They are then sent to a dental laboratory for construction.

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What is an inlay for teeth?

An inlay works similarly to a filling and can fill in the centre of a tooth that may get damaged due to decay, injury, or trauma. It helps repair the tooth from this initial damage but prevents further damage by strengthening it and lessening any sensitivity. It has a stronger fracture resistance and can have a longer survival rate than fillings.

The are made at laboratories and need to appointments to prepare and fit

What is an onlay for teeth?

An onlay can be used to repair the exterior of a tooth called the 'cusp', the most visible part of the tooth. It will then be constructed and designed to recreate the shape of a natural tooth and bond to the exterior of the tooth. This strengthens the existing tooth while restoring it to full function.

Onlays are made off-site in the laboratory and usually require two appointments for completion.

Difference between inlay and onlay in dentistry

Dental inlay and onlay can provide a treatment for decayed or damaged teeth. Though the names may be similar, inlay and onlay are different things.

Inlays are usually smaller and used to fill in gaps between the cusps of your teeth. They are a great alternative to large fillings. Meanwhile, onlays are larger pieces that cover either one or more cusps. They are sometimes called partial crowns.

When it is about deciding whether an inlay and onlay are suitable for your case, the dentist will help you make the choice. They consider several factors, such as the extent of damage and the amount of restoration needed, to create a recommendation based on their findings. 

Suitable candidate for inlay and onlay

It is important to consider the needs of individuals at the time of performing dental inlay onlay treatment. Here is a breakdown of who might be the right candidate for this method:

  • Having moderate to severe tooth decay
  • Individuals with large fillings that need replacement due to decay, wear or damage
  • Minor to moderate damage or fracture to restore tooth structure
  • Preserve natural teeth which require long-lasting restoration
  • Aesthetically pleasing restoration to match appearance and colour of natural teeth
  • Get additional protection and support to the teeth
  • Past history of bruxism or clenching which causes wear and damage
  • Allergic to certain materials like metal alloys

Benefits of Inlay and Onlay

  • Increase tooth strength - They can increase tooth strength of weakened teeth by at least 75 per cent. 
  • Endure fracture and damage - Dental inlays and onlays can withstand damage and fractures much better.
  • Resistant to stain - These are highly resistant to stains and scratches.
  • Improve teeth appearance - They can help improve the natural beauty and overall appearance of your teeth and smile.
  • Customise oral restoration - They are customised dental restorations prepared in the laboratory to fit the patient's tooth structure, shape and colour.
  • Superior Fit - They are a good choice when minimal to moderate tooth decay extends into a flossing area. They are also an excellent option for full-coverage crowns.
  • Tooth Colour - They are highly resistant to discolourations and colour changes compared to tooth-coloured resin fillings.
  • Tooth structure protection - Though securing functional longevity, they preserve the maximum amount of tooth structure.
  • Restore natural tooth anatomy - They fit better than composite fillings due to perfect moulding and fabrication.
  • Durability and stability - Since they have superior fit and physical properties, they are stronger and can strengthen the remaining tooth structure.
  • Easy to care and maintain - After restoring an inlay and onlay, you must go for routine dental hygiene practices. Based on the kind of material you use, the dentist advises you to prevent putting extreme pressure on the restored tooth.

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Materials used in the preparation of Inlays and Onlays

The primary three materials for preparing inlay and onlay are Gold, Ceramic (Porcelain) or Composite resin.

1. Gold: Gold is the primary material of choice due to its strength and durability. It offers excellent protection to tooth cusps, which become weak due to cavities and trauma. Gold has become less common as an inlay and overlay material, introducing tooth-coloured restorations as an option. They blend slowly with natural tooth colour and are more costly than other restorations.


  • Stain-resistant
  • Enough to withstand fractures
  • Malleable
  • Durable

The dentist recommends Gold inlays when a cavity filling has repeated fractures. Ceramic or cosmetic inlays are more attractive for aesthetic reasons. However, they do not have the strength or durability of a gold inlay and are highly susceptible to damage.

2. Ceramic (Porcelain) : Ceramics and onlays are made of porcelain, which imitates the natural appearance of teeth in shape, function and colour. It is strong, durable, and resistant to stains, making it a popular material for preparing tooth-coloured restorations.


  • Create improved cosmetic result
  • Made to imitate tooth translucency
  • Durable, when fused to tooth-coloured and metal

3.Composite Resin : Composite inlay and onlay are an excellent option for gold or ceramic restorations and can be used in filling cavities that are very large for traditional fillings. Composite and onlays combine with natural teeth and are more wear and tear resistant than conventional fillings. They are less strong in comparison to porcelain and gold restorations.


  • Tooth-coloured
  • Durable
  • Lower cost

What is the treatment procedure?

Dental inlays and onlays can be fitted by following this procedure.

The method of fixing inlay and onlay requires at least two dental appointments. Inlay and onlay should be moulded properly to the size and shape of individuals' teeth.

During the first appointment, your dentist prepares part of the tooth. The leftover part of the tooth will be shaped carefully to ensure inlay and onlay shape to it. This shaped tooth is scanned or an impression is taken. This mould is the duplication of your mouth so that inlay and onlay can be prepared in the laboratory.

The next appointment is about cemebring the inlay and onlay on the teeth. Inlay and onlay can be placed carefully to match the exact tooth shape. After they are set in the correct position, your dentist works on bonding together inlay and onlay permanently on your tooth. Teeth inlays and onlays are polished so that you leave the dental practice with a dazzling smile.

Recovery and Aftercare

Most patients recover from inlay or onlay procedures within a few days. But bacteria and plaque buildup pose a significant risk, so you should practice good dental hygiene to ensure your teeth remain strong and your gums are healthy. Dentists suggest these practical tips to lessen the possibility of oral disease:

  • Inlays will extend into the interdental mouth areas between your teeth. Practice cleaning these areas daily by using an interdental toothbrush or through flossing. 
  • Practice oral care, such as brushing twice daily and rinsing with mouthwash to eliminate bacteria.
  • Keep the intake of sugar low after your inlay or onlay fittings. Avoid acidic foods and drinks such as coffee, candy, dairy, dark fruits, and processed food.
  • Routine dental appointments must be scheduled every six months to check inlay and onlay. Your restored tooth will be inspected thoroughly to detect any signs of damage, leakage and disease.

Cost of Inlay and Onlay

The cost of inlay and onlay will be more than basic restorations like dental fillings. Onlays generally cost a little more than inlays due to their large size.

Inlays or onlays are usually made of quality materials such as gold, porcelain or zirconia, which cost more than the ones made of materials like composite resin. The dentist's experience, dental practice location and online reputation will influence the cost of these restorations.

If you want to learn more about inlay and onlay in dentistry and know if it is the best option, then contact us on 02037457526 at Dental Implant London. Our team will be more than happy to help you and answer all your queries.


White fillings are a form of dental restoration comprising of composite resin. White composite fillings are an appropriate option for filling small tooth cavities, whereas other materials can fill larger holes.

Composite white fillings can get worn or fractured when they come in contact with  chewing, which means they need to be replaced. Inlay and onlay are suitable for larger fractures or cavities which need filling. The correctness of their finish as well as design means inlays and onlays decrease the chances of tooth problems and gum irritation. Light-activated curing means the inlay or onlay is cured, polished, and shaped to completion without further shrinkage.

The treatment with inlays or onlays provides patients with many benefits, such as:

  • Less invasive tooth restoration for better oral function.
  • Choice of dental filler material such as Gold, Porcelain, Zirconium or Composite White Filler.
  • Strong teeth and healthy gums.
  • Enhance oral health, bite and chewing force.
  • Protection and prevention against further dental infection, oral disease and trauma.
  • Better health, attractive smile and greater confidence
  • Improve your overall appearance.
  • Better longevity with advanced technology and procedures.

The dentist polishes inlay or onlay to appear smooth on the touch and look healthy like natural teeth. Your dentist will suggest routine brushing and flossing to maintain the oral health of your teeth. An anti-bacterial mouthwash lets you keep your breath fresh and lessen the risk of plaque and tartar buildup.

Inlay and onlay have been designed to be subtle so that they fit in with your remaining teeth and are invisible.

People who suffer from dental anxiety or trauma should not let fears prevent them from getting the treatment. There are relaxation methods to help patients overcome dental phobia, like pain-free treatment options. A dentist can explain all these options to you before the treatment.

Dentists trained in cosmetic dentistry have both aesthetic and great expertise to provide inlay and onlay treatment. They are trained in using cutting-edge technology, the latest restorative materials and advanced procedures. Besides, the practitioners possess the necessary skill and artistic ability to create functional dental restorations like inlay and onlay.

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