What Are Inlays and Onlays?

woman in the dentist's chair with a dentist working on her mouth - what are inlays onlays

What Are Inlays and Onlays?

You are probably familiar with fillings and crowns—inlays and onlays are another way that dentists repair damaged teeth. Damage can come in the form of decay (cavities) or trauma (chipping a tooth on something hard). No matter the reason, when your teeth need care, visiting your dentist is the best thing to do. 

What Is the Difference Between Inlays and Onlays?

Different degrees of damage require different types of restorations. Small amounts of damage may be fixed with a filling, while a greater amount might require a crown to rebuild the tooth. Inlays and onlays cover the in-between damage. 

The main difference between inlays and onlays is their size:

  • Inlays are used when the damaged area is small enough that it includes only one point (or cusp), but is too large for a filling.
  • Onlays are used when the damage is too large for an inlay but not vast enough for a crown. 

How Do Inlays and Onlays Work?

Inlays and onlays help rebuild your tooth using hard, durable materials like ceramic, porcelain, or even gold. The material is pe-formed to fit the missing area and bonded to the tooth at a dental visit. Inlays and onlays help keep the tooth strong and prevent it from shifting out of place. 

Typical Steps for an Inlay or Onlay Procedure:

  1. Full mouth x-rays to ensure all damage is found
  2. Drilling to remove decay and ensure that the inlay or onlay has a proper surface to adhere to
  3. Create a mold of the tooth
  4. Build an inlay or onlay of the missing area 
  5. Fit and bond the restoration to the tooth 

Does Getting Inlays or Onlays Hurt?

While the process might be slightly uncomfortable, the relief of having a restored tooth is far greater. Once bonded, the inlay or onlay will make the tooth stronger than before. They can alleviate tooth pain and allow you to live without worrying about your smile. 

Why Fix a Damaged Tooth?

Getting damaged teeth repaired by a dental professional is an important part of protecting your health. Decaying teeth can quickly spread infections to your gums and other teeth. Besides causing considerable pain, if the decay is not treated, the affected tooth may die and fall out or need to be removed by your dentist. 

Missing teeth can make your other teeth shift out of place. They can also cause your jaw to become weak, and change the shape of your face. This can lead to the need for other dental treatments like dentures or implants, which can be long and expensive procedures.

Cosmetic Dental Care in Prescott, Arizona

From inlays to onlays and fillings to crowns, here at Hicks Dental Group, we can help you feel better about your smile. Decay and damage to your teeth can cause pain, infections, and other health problems, not to mention the way that your smile can affect your confidence. Working with a kind and caring dentist can improve your smile and your life. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.



Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (2/26/23). Photo by lafayett zapata montero on Unsplash.