Dental inlays and onlays are composed of porcelain or gold and are some of the most durable and natural looking dental restorations available today. Inlays and onlays can be made of gold or ceramic or composite resin as well, however, porcelain has become the material of choice because of its strength and ability to match the tooth’s natural color. Used to repair rear teeth with mild to moderate decay, this treatment may also be used to restore teeth that are cracked or broken, yet not severely damaged enough to require a crown.

Many patients choose to receive inlays or onlays to replace the metal dental fillings that they have received in the past. Inlays and onlays are able to mirror the color of the patient’s natural teeth, improving the appearance of their smile as well as their overall oral health. These treatments are typically very easy and are able to be completed within two dental visits. Once an impression of the tooth is taken, a dental lab will create an exact mold of the tooth. Then, the patient will return for their second dental visit to replace their temporary inlay with the permanent one.

For the most part, inlays and onlays are a relatively painless procedure. With minimal discomfort, patients are generally encouraged to return to their normal daily activities immediately following this dental work. As such, dental inlays and onlays have become an incredibly popular treatment for both patients and dentists.

Dental Inlay vs. Dental Onlay

Dental inlays address the area between the cusps of teeth, where damage or decay exists within the indented top surfaces. Commonly used to replace the metal fillings that were once popular, dental inlays are durable, convenient, and are tooth-colored with the use of porcelain. Compared to a dental onlay, inlays are typically smaller and fill the area within tooth’s cusps.

Dental onlays, on the other hand, are used to treat damaged or decayed teeth that encompass the tooth’s surface structure and one or more cusps. Onlays are placed in a similar manner to that of inlays and provide the same amount of durability, convenience, and tooth-colored appearance. Onlays are critical for some patients, as they may prevent the need for more extensive treatments such as bridges, implants, or crowns.

Benefits of Inlays and Onlays

Inlays and onlays are an excellent alternative to the more involved treatments such as bridges. Unfortunately, inlays and onlays have the potential to fracture and cost more than composite or amalgam. However, there is a myriad of benefits related to this dental procedure. When properly cared for, they may last for up to 30 years. The following are the most significant benefits of dental inlays and onlays:

  • Customized, bonded to the tooth area to prevent bacteria from entering
  • Matches natural tooth color
  • No metal showing
  • Insulates the tooth
  • Will not stain
  • Beautiful appearance
  • Compatible with large cavities
  • Durable

Patients who receive either inlays or onlays must remember to care for their teeth in the same manner. Regular flossing and brushing is critical and it is also advisable to use a fluoride mouthwash. In addition, patients must see their dentist at least once, if not twice, a year to ensure that their overall oral health is adequate.

To speak with a dentist about your inlay or onlay procedure, contact our Royal Palm Beach dentists today.



Shirley Manzo

 I have my teeth cleaned and they have never looked so good! I would recommend them to anyone wanting superior service. I never have to wait more than a few minutes before going in.  I’m giving them 5 stars, they earned it!

Timothy DiPace

I didn’t think I would ever be able to replace the expert dental care that I had received in Boston from my dentist of over thirty years. However, I was wrong about that. When I found James Family Dentistry, I realized immediately that it was the place to be. I am pleased beyond belief!

Bill Craven

A very friendly office. Several employees have been there for more than 10 years. Two employees have been there for 20 years. That says a lot about Dr. James, and I should know, I have been a patient for 20 years.

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