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What’s the Difference Between Inlays and Onlays?

To most people, dental restorations such as crownsimplants, and veneers sound familiar. But inlays and onlays and the benefits they provide may be completely new to some folks. 

At Dental Studios, our skilled and compassionate dental team provides comprehensive dental care. Patients in Summit and Westfield, New Jersey, enjoy our state-of-the-art equipment and dental technologies, including inlays and onlays, to improve their dental health and their smile’s appearance.

Here, we explain the difference between inlays and onlays, how they work, and if they could be the right solution for your dental needs. 

What are inlays?

Inlays function in much the same way as fillings. Made from composite materials, fillings are pressed into the cavity in your tooth to prevent bacteria or plaque from building up inside that space. 

Inlays are made from lab-manufactured composite materials and colored to match your existing teeth. We use inlays instead of a filling when you have a cavity that affects the top surface of a tooth and is too large for a regular filling. 

Aside from cavity repair, we can also use inlays to save a cracked tooth or repair other damage on the top surface of your tooth. 


To begin the process of applying an inlay, your Dental Studios provider first takes an impression of your tooth. We then send it to a lab to fabricate an inlay that fits the shape of the part of the tooth being treated. 

What are onlays?

Similar to inlays, we use onlays to treat damage that affects a bigger area of your tooth, and they extend beyond the top surface, including the edges or side surfaces of a tooth. If possible, your dentist may recommend an onlay rather than a crown, which covers the entire visible surface of your natural tooth.

The process of making an onlay is the same as an inlay, starting with getting an impression made in our office that we send to a lab to create a custom-fitted onlay that blends with your natural teeth.

How are inlays and onlays applied?

Inlays and onlays are placed over two dental visits. At the first visit, your dentist cleans the tooth and surrounding area, preparing it for the inlay or onlay and taking the impression. Your dentist fills your tooth temporarily until your next visit.

At the second visit, your dentist permanently places the inlay or onlay with a strong dental adhesive. Then we shape the surface for a natural and comfortable fit, blending in with the rest of your teeth. 

Inlays and onlays look completely natural, almost indistinguishable from your natural teeth. Extremely durable, inlays and onlays can last for up to 30 years with no additional care needed beyond good dental hygiene and regular dental checkups. 

Can inlays and onlays help me?

The only way to determine if an inlay or onlay is the appropriate treatment for your dental condition is through a consultation with a dental care provider. 

At Dental Studios, one of our dentists evaluates your teeth and dental history to determine the best course of action. Our team always treats you with personalized care and makes customized treatment recommendations. 

Are inlays or onlays the solution to your dental troubles? The experts at Dental Studios in New Jersey can help. Call our team to schedule your consultation or book online now.

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What Our
patients say
  • I had an excellent experience with this practice! The dentist was very kind and listened attentively to my concerns. Everything went great and they checked on me a few hours after I got home. Great doctor and caring staff!

    by Damian L. on 8/29/21