Understanding the Benefits of Inlays and Onlays

Understanding the Benefits of Inlays and Onlays

More than 90% of American adults have cavities, and it’s also normal to have some tooth wear-and-tear as you age. There are several ways to deal with this damage, ranging from fillings to crowns to inlays and onlays. 

At Tenth Street Family Dental, our team of general and cosmetic dental care specialists has spent the last 20-plus years improving oral health and perfecting smiles. We offer crowns, veneers, and inlays and onlays to provide a full spectrum of tooth restoration options conveniently in our Indianapolis, Indiana, office. 

Many of our patients need tooth restoration but aren’t aware of all their options or the benefits of the lesser-known restorations like  inlays and onlays. That’s why we’re discussing inlays and onlays and their benefits here in our June blog. Read on to learn what they can do for you. 

Understanding inlays and onlays

To understand the benefits of inlays and onlays, you need to know the basics about how each restoration works. Inlays and onlays are usually either porcelain or composite resin tooth restorations. 

Unlike crowns, which cover the whole tooth, inlays and onlays cover the chewing surfaces only. They are often a good option if you have either tooth decay or a wearing down of your chewing surfaces. 


Inlays fit into the center of teeth. For example, in a molar, an inlay fills the area between the four cusps of the tooth. The inlay restores the center of the tooth (the chewing surface) to its original height and protects against further decay or wear-and-tear. 


Onlays cover the entire middle part of the tooth, and also extend to cover at least one tooth cusp. So, onlays are bigger restorations than inlays. 

Inlays and onlays are much less extensive restorations than crowns, which cover all tooth surfaces. They’re also different from veneers, as veneers are cosmetic only. Veneers cover the fronts of the “smile” teeth and aren’t for the back teeth. 

The benefits of inlays and onlays 

Inlays and onlays are amazingly effective tooth restorations with a number of benefits, including:


Inlays and onlays last up to 30 years (longer than other tooth restoration options). 

Virtually invisible

Using inlays and onlays instead of traditional metal fillings gives you effective tooth restoration that looks completely natural. Our Tenth Street Family Dental dentists select the color of the inlay or onlay based on the shade of your tooth for a perfect match. 


Inlays and onlays are far more stable than metal fillings. Although metal fillings tend to grow and shrink in response to temperature which can potentially crack or break a tooth — inlays and onlays are temperature-stable. 

Tooth preservation

When you get a crown, your dentist must remove a significant amount of your tooth surface — up to 72% of the visible tooth. With an inlay or onlay, our dentists need to remove far less tooth material. Preserving as much of your natural tooth is always best.  

Tooth strengthening

Inlays and onlays can actually make your teeth stronger, according to the American College of Prosthodontists. Our Tenth Street Family Dental specialists place your custom-made inlay or onlay in position and then bond it to the tooth. The bonding essentially fuses the restoration to the tooth and makes it stronger overall. 

Ready for your inlay or onlay?

The process for getting an inlay or onlay is simple and easy. Generally, you only need two visits to our office. During your first visit, we prepare your tooth, take impressions, and fit a temporary restoration onto your tooth. 

Once the lab creates your custom restoration, you return to our office. We remove the temporary restoration and place the new one. You can start using your tooth (chewing and eating) normally that same day. 

Call our office at 317-358-8885, or contact us online via this link to book your inlays and onlays consultation now.

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