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Understanding the Benefits of Inlays and Onlays

Mar 01, 2024
Understanding the Benefits of Inlays and Onlays
When it comes to restorations, fillings and crowns often dominate the conversation, but inlays and onlays are also options for treating decay. Read on to learn more about inlays and onlays and their benefits.

When it comes to dental restorations, you have several options. You may be familiar with fillings and crowns, but they aren’t your only options. Inlays and onlays — sometimes called indirect fillings — are two other types of restorations. 

You might need an inlay or onlay when you have too much decay for a filling but not enough for a dental crown. 

Both inlays and onlays are available here at Smile Design Studio of Bethesda in Bethesda, Maryland. Read on as our team of dentists explains the difference between inlays and onlays and the advantages of both.

Inlays versus onlays

Inlays and onlays are two types of indirect restorations, which means they’re fabricated completely outside of your mouth. This is the opposite of a traditional dental filling (a type of direct restoration).

An inlay is a dental restoration that fits within the contours of your tooth's occlusal surface (i.e., your chewing surface). On the other hand, an onlay covers one or more tooth cusps.

Five benefits of inlays and onlays

All dental restorations have one thing in common: They restore your tooth to working order. Whether your tooth was damaged or decayed, you need a dental restoration to protect your tooth, stop the pain of damage or decay, and enhance the look of your damaged tooth.

Each type of restoration has its own set of pros and cons. Here are the top benefits of inlays and onlays.

They don’t require extensive enamel removal 

Unlike crowns that require substantial removal of tooth structure, inlays and onlays preserve more of your natural tooth. 

They’re durable

Crafted from durable materials such as porcelain or composite resin, inlays and onlays provide exceptional strength and resilience. These restorations can withstand the forces of biting and chewing.

They’re aesthetic pleasing

Inlays and onlays are made to match the natural color and shape of your teeth. In other words, this means that your inlays and onlays aren’t just functional. They add to the overall appearance of your smile.

You can expect minimal tooth sensitivity

People often experience less post-treatment tooth sensitivity with inlays and onlays compared to traditional fillings. That’s because tooth-colored filling materials that we use in these restorations are less likely to conduct temperature changes, which minimizes discomfort after the procedure.

Another reason inlays and onlays are typically more comfortable than a traditional filling  is that they are custom-made to fit the surface of your teeth.

They’re a conservative alternative to dental crowns 

For moderately decayed (or damaged) teeth, inlays and onlays offer a conservative alternative to dental crowns. To place dental crowns, we must remove part of your enamel to make room for the crowns.

For inlays and onlays, we remove only a minimal amount of tooth material, making inlays and onlays a preferable option for preserving your natural tooth.

What to expect from your inlay or onlay

Before you receive your inlay or onlay, your first step is to schedule an initial consultation with us. If an inlay or onlay is right for you, our next step is to take impressions. 

We then place a temporary restoration to protect your tooth while your inlay or onlay is being created. 

When your inlay or onlay is ready, you return to our office to have your final restoration securely placed. That’s it. In just two visits, your tooth will be fully functional once again.

To schedule your consultation, call us at 301-907-8201 to speak with our friendly staff. You can also request an appointment here.