The Differences between Inlays and Onlays

by drrapisarda
At Dr. Robert Rapisarda’s Worcester cosmetic dentistry practice, we can replace old, metal dental fillings with tooth-colored inlays and onlays. Inlays and onlays are tooth-colored fabrications used to restore the look of your teeth, while also adding strength and correcting damage. Though inlays and onlays are used to repair rear teeth damaged by tooth decay or injury, the type of restoration that is placed will depend on the amount of damage sustained by the tooth. Read this overview to understand the difference between the two treatments. We welcome you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Rapisarda to determine which treatment is best suited to your needs.

What Are Inlays and What Are They Used to Treat?

Inlays are a tooth-colored dental fabrication used to treat dental cavities or replace old dental fillings. They can be made of porcelain or composite resin. Though gold inlays are available, most people choose tooth-colored materials for a flawless finish. Inlays are different from onlays in that they are used to treat smaller areas of decay and damage within the cusps of the teeth.

Inlay treatment generally requires two dental visits, as each inlay is custom-made from an impression of the tooth. During the first dental visit, an impression is taken and sent to a dental lab. A temporary inlay is placed while waiting for the lab to custom-make the inlay. Once the inlay is complete, a second dental visit will be scheduled to permanently place the inlay and complete the treatment process. 

What Are Onlays and What Are They Used to Treat?

Like inlays, onlays are used to treat dental cavities and damage; onlays are also called partial crowns. They too are made of tooth-colored materials. Gold is another material that can be used to make onlays, but gold is not as popular do to its tendency to stand out in a white tooth. Onlays differ from inlays in the extent of damage, as well as the area they are designed to treat. Onlays are used when damage extends beyond one or more cusps. They can be used for major cavities or to repair chipped or broken teeth.

The treatment process for the placement of onlays typically requires two dental visits. As with inlays, an impression must be made of the treated tooth. The impression is sent to a dental lab where the onlay is custom-made. Once finished, the onlay will be placed and bonded to the tooth at a second dental visit.

Alternative Restorative Treatments

If your teeth are too damaged for inlays or onlays, don’t despair. There are alternative restorative treatments available. Some alternatives for damaged or missing teeth include porcelain dental crowns and dental implants. Porcelain crowns are a wonderful treatment to restore the strength of a severely damaged tooth while also restoring the appearance. For our patients in Worcester, dental implants are a great option to permanently replace missing teeth.

Schedule a Consultation

You can have a gorgeous, flawless smile and the confidence a beautiful smile brings. We welcome you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Rapisarda for your personalized treatment plan.

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