Ask a Dentist

November 9, 2022

Q: What’s The Difference Between A Dental Inlay And Onlay?

Tooth dental ceramic inlay, onlay, overlay or crown treatment set. Teeth dentistry restoration with porcelain sealant in cavity. Vector flat design cartoon style clip art illustration.

There are many ways to fix a damaged tooth. You’re probably more familiar with treatments like crowns or fillings, but there are other types of tooth restoration options available such as dental inlays and onlays. 

What Are Dental Inlays And Onlays?

Both inlays and onlays involve removing an existing cavity with a drill and filling that empty space. They’re typically used to support a simple filling when the tooth has experienced excess damage but not to the point where a crown is needed. The main difference between the two is how the space is filled. 

When Do I Need A Dental Inlay?

Inlays are most often used to treat cavities centred in your tooth instead of along the outer edges. Your dentist may also recommend an inlay when the damage is extensive enough to need a large dental filling. It’s a relatively painless and straightforward procedure. 

A dentist will numb your mouth with local anesthetic and then drill into the affected tooth to clean out the decay. When it’s clean, your dental professional will take a dental impression of your tooth's top crevice area and create a pre-molded filling in a lab. At Dental Image Therapy Centres, we have a CEREC machine that can create an inlay or onlay in-house, so you don’t have to come in for more than one appointment. 

When To Choose An Onlay

Onlays go over the tooth cusp (an elevated feature of a tooth found on your back teeth and canines), whereas inlays fill the space between your cusps. You can think of onlays as the middle ground between filling a cavity and removing part of your tooth to cap it with a crown. The procedure to fit and place an inlay and onlay is the same. 

Only a dental professional can determine whether a filling, crown, inlay or onlay is the right treatment for you. Tooth restoration is done to keep your tooth strong while conserving its structure as much as possible. Got a cavity that needs filling? Visit one of our two Winnipeg locations today at Garden City Shopping Centre and St. Vital Centre. We’ll help you chew with ease in no time!

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Maybe it's time for your and your family's regular checkup and cleaning, you have a toothache or you need to get your treatment plan going - whatever the reason, we're here to help you get your confident smile. Whether you're a new patient or a returning friend, we can't wait to see you at your next appointment at either of our Winnipeg clinics!

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