Inlays & Onlays

Rebuilding Teeth

Inlays and onlays are used to replace missing enamel and restore tooth structure. Dr. Frahm may recommend an inlay or an onlay for these dental care needs.

  • Cavities and carries
  • Wear from bite force
  • Trauma to tooth
  • Small fractures

An inlay is placed into the center of your tooth. Inlays are most commonly used instead of a filling for cavities found in the center of one of your back teeth. Inlays are made of biocompatible tooth colored materials. So, an inlay looks and functions just like natural tooth enamel.

An onlay is similar to an inlay, but it covers more of your tooth’s surface. An onlay extends to cover the cusps of your tooth. If fits over the biting surface, but it does not extend down the sides of your tooth. This is what differentiates onlays from crowns.

Before After

What are Dental Inlays and Onlays?

Most often we about dental fillings and crowns. Inlays and onlays may be less common. They are less invasive dental solutions in the right situations. When a filling isn’t enough, and a crown isn’t appropriate, Dr. Frahm recommends inlays and onlays.

Dental Inlays in Monterey

The center of the chewing surface of a tooth can be damaged through decay or injury. An inlay can help resolve the problem. Inlays are molded and fitted inside the tooth’s chewing surface. An inlay fits well into the hollow of the tooth without affecting the cusps. Dr. Frahm, and our dental laboratory partner, match the the color of your teeth. Then, after making an impression, they build your custom inlay. An added benefit is that the inlay is made of either porcelain or composite material, which makes it stronger and more durable than a filling.

Dental Onlays in Monterey

When there is damage and / or decay involving the cusps of your tooth, Dr. Frahm may recommend an onlay. Onlays are used when the cavity is too big for filling. First, the cavity is removed from your tooth. Next, an impression of your tooth is then made. Dr. Frahm places a temporary onlay. Then, your permanent onlay is crafted in by our state-of-the-art dental lab partner. Once your custom onlay arrives, you return for your onlay placement visit. Your onlay looks and feels just like your natural tooth.

A visual comparison of inlays, onlays, and crowns, shown on teeth.

Difference Between an Inlay and Onlays

The difference between dental inlays and onlays is the amount of space they fill. An inlay fills cavities and hollow areas in teeth. An onlay fills a larger area including the cavity and cusps. Neither an inlay nor onlay cover the whole tooth. Both are made from durable, biocompatible materials that match your natural teeth. The primary difference between onlays and inlays is that they cover different areas of a tooth.

Onlay vs. Crown

Dr. Frahm recommends an onlay when the area for restoration is limited. This is because an onlay covers a smaller portion of your tooth than a crown. To place an onlay, less tooth enamel must be removed. Crowns are an excellent restorative dental solution when significant wear or decay has occurred. A crown replaces the surface of your tooth, extending partially down the sides of your teeth. An onlay only covers the top.

Inlay vs. Filling

Inlays are often a better solution for filling larger cavities, found in the center of a tooth’s biting surface. This is because inlays are generally more durable than fillings. Fillings are built to expand and contract with temperature. This is helpful for the fillings placed on the sides of teeth. But, for chewing surfaces, it is important to have highly durable material in place. This is where biocompatible inlays can make a difference for you.

How Long Do Inlays and Onlays Last for Your Teeth?

A great benefit of dental inlays and onlays is their durability and longevity. You can expect an inlay to last up to five to 30 years! Of course, this is a wide average and there are no guarantees. Longevity can be affected by a variety of factors.

To help your inlay and / or onlay last longer, be sure to maintain excellent dental health at home and with regular hygiene visits. If you know you clench or grind your teeth, ask Dr. Frahm about getting a custom nightguard.

Contact Our Dental Team

Let our team of dental care experts help you find your most vibrant smile. Please call 831-372-8011 today or contact our care concierge to schedule your dental consultation with Dr. Sarah Frahm. We serve patients throughout the communities of Monterey, Carmel, and Pacific Grove.

Scroll to Top