When to do an onlay or inlay?

When to do an onlay or inlay?

Dec 01, 2023

Dental care has come a long way in offering diverse solutions for maintaining and restoring the beauty and health of our teeth. Among these solutions, dental inlays and onlays have become prominent. These procedures not only offer aesthetic advantages but also serve as functional remedies. In this blog, we’ll understand when it’s most appropriate to choose an inlay dental treatment or its close cousin, the onlay.

What are Inlays and Onlays?

Before we delve into the specifics, it’s crucial to have a fundamental understanding of these terms. An inlay is a pre-molded restoration fitted into a cavity and cemented into place. It works within the cusps (or biting surface) of the tooth. In contrast, a tooth onlay covers not just the cusps but also the whole biting surface of the tooth, making it more extensive than an inlay.

When to Choose an Inlay

Tooth inlay procedures are usually recommended in the following scenarios:

  1. Moderate Decay or Damage: Inlays can be the solution if a tooth has moderate decay or damage that doesn’t warrant a full crown but is too extensive for a filling.
  2. Aesthetic Considerations: If the decay or damage is in a visible part of the mouth, inlays can be crafted from porcelain or composite material, which can be matched closely to the tooth’s natural shade.
  3. Fracture Concerns: Inlays provide better structural support than traditional fillings, reducing the chance of fractures or breaks.

When to Opt for an Onlay

A tooth onlay procedure is typically chosen in these situations:

  1. Extensive Decay or Damage: When the damage extends beyond one cusp but still doesn’t require a full crown, onlays come into play.
  2. Preserving Tooth Structure: Since onlays are bigger than crowns, more natural tooth structure may be kept intact. This makes it a preferred option for those who aim to maintain as much of the natural tooth as possible.
  3. Longevity: Onlays are often made of durable materials like porcelain, which can withstand biting forces effectively and last longer than traditional fillings.

Inlays & Onlays in Marshfield, MA

If you’re residing in or around Marshfield, you’re in luck! There has been an increasing focus on offering specialized treatment in the area, such as inlays and onlays. If you’re contemplating such a procedure, it’s advisable to consult a reliable dental group, such as Marshfield Dental Group, that can offer expert advice tailored to your unique dental needs.


To sum it up, both inlays and onlays provide efficient solutions for restoring the aesthetics and functionality of damaged teeth. The choice between the two largely depends on the extent of the tooth’s decay or damage. At Marshfield Dental Group, we take pride in providing custom dental solutions tailored to each patient’s unique needs. After all, a healthy smile is a happy smile!

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