When Should You Consider Inlays and Onlays?

When Should You Consider Inlays and Onlays?

May 01, 2021

Tooth cavities are a common dental problem. However, most people don’t realize that each cavity differs from one another. Therefore, different solutions are available. Typically, minor cavities are corrected with a filling, while major cavities are treated with dental crowns.

Then you have the cavities that do not fall on either extreme. They are neither mild nor severe. That is when dental inlays and onlays come into play. Dental inlays and onlays are also called indirect fillings or partial crowns.

For dental inlays and onlays near you, contact Edgartown Dental Group today.

When to Visit the Dentist

People tend to ignore small cavities. However, if not addressed, the hole will gradually grow and start impacting your oral health. Before you know it, the infection will spread to other teeth. At this point, you may finally decide to visit your dentist for treatment. Among the available treatment options are inlays and onlays, which offer a safe, reliable, and sustainable solution.

Dental Inlays

Once you visit the dentist, an assessment of your dental condition is conducted. The dentist then suggests the best solution depending on the degree of your tooth damage. Dental inlays are considered when the tooth damage is beyond conventional fillings.

An inlay is made of ceramic porcelain and is fabricated to take your cavity’s exact shape and size. Each inlay is individually made to fit within the teeth perfectly. After fixing the inlay, the dentist uses a special dental cement to hold it firmly.

The porcelain used is made in an off-site laboratory. Each piece has to match a custom design process to ensure that it perfectly fits the tooth’s space to avoid leaving tiny holes that turn to become bacteria hubs. A dental inlay, therefore, requires more than one session at the dental office.

Traditionally, inlays were made of metals. Nowadays, the use of porcelain is popular. Porcelain comes with several benefits. It is:

  • Wear-resistant
  • Durable
  • Aesthetic
  • Long-lasting

Dental Onlays

Onlays are inlays done on a larger scale. Unlike inlays, onlays are reserved for extreme cases where a tooth is too damaged to respond to a traditional filling or dental inlay. Onlays cover the entire biting surface of a damaged tooth.

Your dentist may recommend an onlay instead of a crown to preserve more of the tooth’s structure. Similar to an inlay, an onlay is a single compact piece of porcelain. It is performed on an individual tooth.

Onlays have several benefits, such as:

  • The porcelain used is aesthetic and naturally blends in with the teeth.
  • Onlays are durable.

Although inlays and onlays are a great tooth restoration option, it is not suitable for every situation. Here are some things to keep in mind before opting for this restorative treatment:

  • Your tooth should have a cavity that a filling cannot fix.
  • Your tooth must have substantial tooth structure remaining to qualify for an inlay or onlay treatment and to ensure the restoration is successful.


If you have a small cavity, you should visit your dentist to determine whether a dental filling will suffice. A dental filling procedure is the most basic restorative dental procedure. It entails removing the decayed section of your tooth and replacing it with a composite resin material.

Practicing good oral hygiene is always important. No matter if your teeth are healthy or you have had restorative dental work done, you should maintain excellent dental hygiene habits.

After having any dental procedure done, good oral hygiene will ensure the longevity of the solution provided. Lastly, regular visits to the dentist can keep you from needing more restorative dental work done. Our dentist can stop any problems before they escalate.


Although minor cavities can be curbed at an early stage by basic restorations, you can always opt for a dental inlay or onlay if the cavity is no longer treatable with just a filling. Inlays and onlays are a great restorative dental treatment.

To schedule a consultation for dental inlays and onlays, contact Edgartown Dental Group today. We can help you determine the best treatment for your unique situation.

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