Understanding Inlays & Onlays

Inlays Onlays

When a cavity is too big for a conventional bonded white filling, but not large enough for a crown, an inlay or onlay is typically the best restorative option. At Salvatore Dental, we use our Cerec machine to scan the tooth and create a porcelain restoration that perfectly fits the tooth, like adding the missing piece to a puzzle.

Why Not a Crown or Filling?

Many patients wonder why they have never heard of inlays or onlays when they are recommended by their dentist; this is simply because the inlay and onlay serve a middle ground purpose between filling and crown that is rarely needed. A dental crown uses an artificial covering to entirely encase the top of a tooth, which is unnecessary if most of the tooth is still in a healthy condition. Likewise, sometimes the damage is too much for a simple filling to fully solve, causing the need for the inlay or onlay.

How They Work

The major difference between an inlay or onlay and a standard dental filling is where the filling happens. This may seem confusing at first, but by understanding that the filling takes its shape within the damaged area of the tooth, simply filling the shape with a bonded white resin that literally fills the void left by the now cleaned out cavity. By contrast, inlays and onlays are created outside of the mouth and cemented into place. The reason for this is because of the slightly structural purpose they have to serve, filling a larger void or repairing a surface of the tooth damaged by rot. 

Inlays vs Onlays

Inlays and onlays are very similar, almost similar enough to be considered the same thing, but the major difference lies in the size and orientation of the material used; inlays are smaller, and fit within the current grooves of the tooth, while onlays are larger and must wrap over the tooth to slightly cup other surfaces of the tooth to keep from getting knocked loose. Typically, inlays are used as a sort of “extra large” internal filling, whereas onlays are used as a sort of alternative to crowns for damage that doesn’t quite justify an entire crown. Each case has its own unique properties that can cause an inlay or onlay to be the procedure of choice. Feel free to consult with your dentist and ask why one was chosen over the other or in place of a standard filling.

Our Inlays and Onlays

Salvatore Dental is proud to offer inlays and onlays as an affordable and convenient alternative to a full crown in the Malta area. Our skilled dentists will walk you through the entire process and get your cavities taken care of before they cause further issues.